Football

Zarate in action for Fiorentina.

Mauro Zarate can emulate the success of his celebrated Fiorentina predecessor

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Former West Ham United forward Mauro Zarate is capable of filling the void left behind by the controversial summer departure of previous signing Mohamed Salah.

Salah joined La Viola on a temporary deal from Chelsea in February 2015, before making a bigger-than-anticipated impact at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

The Egyptian confounded critics with a stunning series of performances that helped the Gigliati to reach the Coppa Italia and Europa League semi-finals, as well as fourth place in Serie A.

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He struck seven goals and laid on four assists from 18 starts in all competitions, plus a further six appearances from the bench.

However, despite Fiorentina’s insistence and subsequent bitter battle over the perception that they held first option to make Salah’s switch permanent, he forced through another loan move to AS Roma instead.

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Thus, the Tuscan club have been searching high and low for a suitable replacement ever since – and may just have found it in the shape of skilful Argentine attacker Zarate.

ATTACKING THREAT

New boy Zarate has enjoyed two successful spells at Velez Sarsfield in his homeland, as well as relatively productive stints with Birmingham City and Lazio during a well-travelled career to date.

There were also a couple of unhappy loan periods spent at Inter and Queens Park Rangers, before he finally found some form again this term under highly-rated Hammers boss Slaven Bilic.

So, it was slightly surprising that West Ham were willing to part with the 28-year-old magician on the back of five goals in 21 appearances across all competitions, with six of those outings arriving as a substitute.

His ability to utilise innate trickery and unerring passes to conjure a decisive moment out of nothing meant he was a useful weapon for Bilic – both from the start of matches and as an impact sub.

But, that still failed to put the brakes on a reported £1.6 million transfer to Florence, where he has the unenviable assignment of picking up the slack from Salah.

ACF Fiorentina v Carpi FC - Serie A

LIKE FOR LIKE REPLACEMENT

Both players in question possess strikingly similar stature and footballing attributes, which should stand Zarate in good stead when confronting the task ahead of him.

A shared ability to break at pace on the counter-attack will be hugely useful to Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa, as well as the fact that Zarate offers a keen eye for goal or killer pass that his predecessor also boasted.

The South American and previous incumbent Salah can both operate in various positions through the middle or on either flank, which gives Sousa extensive room for manoeuvre.

One factor that Zarate holds over his once-loved former Fiorentina peer is his sublime close-control.

He’s a wizard when dribbling with the ball, which is something that couldn’t always be said about his forerunner Salah, whose touch was occasionally too heavy.

FC Sevilla v ACF Fiorentina - UEFA Europa League: Semi Final

Having left for Roma under a cloud last summer, the 23-year-old ex-Chelsea man effectively discarded a great amount of goodwill and burgeoning affection from La Viola fans.

Those disgruntled supporters have been waiting for the arrival of another dashing attacking star to take his place, with Zarate well-placed to fulfil that wish due to the abundant skills in his locker.

Who is the better player: Zarate or Salah? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!

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Topics:
Mauro Zarate
Premier League
Football
West Ham United
Serie A

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