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Mauro Zarate - a familiar story of one of football's enigmas

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Mauro Zarate's chequered spell in English football finally came to an end when the Argentine sealed a deal to Fiorentina earlier in the week for a fee of £1.6 million. But did Zarate produce his best? Or was he just another story of talent corrupted by ego?

The move to Italy puts an end to a frustratingly up and down time in England and the fee itself speaks volumes of the player's inability to fulfill what was a promising career and potentially how desperate West Ham were to get rid of him. Either way, it is a position that Zarate has found himself in time and time again.

Going back eight years, Zarate first started his spell in England at Premier League new boys Birmingham in the 2007/08 season and impressed on loan from Al-Saad during his 14 games at the midlands club - managing four goals.

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Inability to stay in the Premier League meant Zarate was fair game and having put his name on the map, he earned himself a move to Lazio.

He immediately endeared his new side with a brace on his debut, a goal on his home debut and a rich vein of scoring form continued up until the New Year. During his initial loan period at Lazio, Zarate bagged an impressive 13 goals in 36 games.

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Dips in form and controversial off the field antics are traits that Zarate's game would soon become accustomed to and both became quickly apparent at his time in Italy's capital.

Although ending the season the sixth top scorer in Serie A, Zarate came under fire after allegedly giving a fascist salute whilst on the bench against Bari and in his defence claimed he had no clue who Hitler or Mussolini were.

A fruitless venture to Inter was followed by another baffling dramatic period at his parent club Lazio, where he was fined and frozen out after November following further off the pitch troubles.

A pattern was starting to emerge for what was clearly a troubled but talented player. A return to his homeland in the form of boyhood club Sarsfield was an attempt to straighten the former wonderkid out.

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Things looked on the up for Zarate, who finished the season in Argentina coasting his way to becoming the top scorer in the league scoring 13 goals in 19 games. Enough it appeared, for West Ham to throw him another big league lifeline.

West Ham's gamble on a bit of a bad boy had bitten them in the past, (a la Ravel Morrison) and history was looking to repeat itself, after a goal on his debut and 2 in 8 for the Hammers, Zarate was sent on a bizarre loan move to fellow Premier League outfit QPR for reasons unknown.

Queen's Park Rangers struggle with egos and player management has come under scrutiny in the past, and it's no surprise that someone with Zarate's rep quickly got out of control. He faced a lengthy ban and hefty fine shortly after arriving, feeling aggrieved after being left out of a starting lineup.

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The result meant he played a handful of games for QPR, making no impact and was sent back to West Ham with another tarnished rep.

Mauro Zarate is one of those players who keeps getting second, third, even fourth chances and West Ham's new manager Slaven Bilic threw him another bone when he took over, with the forward, unsurprisingly coming up with the goods again.

Goals on the first day of the season against Arsenal and shortly after in a rousing 2-1 victory against Chelsea provided fans with the frustrating confliction of feelings towards what is clearly a very gifted footballer, however only when he wants to be.

At the age of 28, Zarate is old enough to know better and young enough to have a few good years ahead of him.

His move back to Italy with La Viola, may prove to be the maturing of a talented youngster with a tendency for trouble. That youngster must grow up now, and it is time for his game to mature with him.

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Topics:
West Ham United
Queens Park Rangers
Premier League
Football
Mauro Zarate

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