West Ham may finally have addressed their striker problem

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Scoring goals has been an issue for West Ham over the past few seasons, as has finding a truly prolific and consistent striker.

Although it is not the fault of the club that record signing Andy Carroll has failed to stay fit for any length of time despite showing flashes of his talent during brief periods, fans will know all too well that their team has been sorely lacking a quality forward for a number of years now.

Instead, they have had to rely on veteran midfielder Kevin Nolan to score their vital goals. 17 in the past two seasons was enough to make him the club's top goalscorer. With the team falling under intense scrutiny and criticism for their 'negative' and overly defensive style of play last year, Sam Allardyce has finally brought in promising attacking reinforcements who could well prove the catalyst to turning the club's faltering fortunes around.

Carroll problems

West Ham certainly haven't lacked strikers in the past few years - indeed, they have relied on a core selection of four, as well as giving opportunities to a variety of loan signings. Carroll, despite his talents, has been hit time and again with persistent injuries, often taking long periods of time to heal and forcing club co-owner David Sullivan to reluctantly admit regrets over his signing.

Another long-term injury sustained in pre-season this year will force him out of the team until November at the earliest, as he continues to be a very expensive and disappointing burden.

Carlton Cole has regularly been West Ham's go-to man after a long and prosperous career with the club, but he will soon hit 31 and having been released once already by the club, questions marks are emerging over his continued suitability as a top-level striker.

This being said, he finished as second top goalscorer last season with six and having signed a new contract that will see him remain at the club until the end of the season at least, he still has some part to play for now.

Portuguese forward Ricardo Vaz Te became an instant hit with fans in his first season, scoring 12 in 18 games between January and summer 2012, including the last-gasp strike in the play-off final against Blackpool to earn the club promotion back to the Premier League.

Since then, however, his form has dipped dramatically, with Vaz Te scoring just seven in the past two seasons, struggling with injuries and even handing in a transfer request, despite eventually electing to remain with the club.

Modibo Maiga has truly failed to live up to expectations - spending the second half of last season out on loan at QPR - and has not been given a squad number for this season. He seems set to exit the club within the next few weeks after an unimpressive few years.


With Carroll injured again, Cole well past his peak, Vaz Te struggling for form and Maiga looking set to depart, Allardyce has recognised the need for reinforcements and addressed the issue quickly and effectively.

Experienced and prolific Argentine forward Mauro Zarate has arrived on a three-year contract and appears a perfect short-term fix for the clubs's lack of effective strikers. His resume includes top teams such as Lazio and Inter Milan, his ruthlessness in front of goal has been demonstrated at multiple clubs around the world and he will eagerly attempt to earn his inclusion in the starting XI this season.

Perhaps the most exciting signing for West Ham this summer has been the capture of Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia for a fee of around £12 million following an impressive World Cup.

At just 24 years of age, Valencia has room to improve and develop in the Premier League and could be the long-term answer to West Ham's issue. Able to play up front or on the wing, he is pacey, strong, comfortable in possession and brings a new level of quality and flair to a West Ham team that has often been described as 'one-dimensional' and 'boring'.

Having seen Valencia play for Ecuador at the World Cup, there is little doubt he will easily adapt to life in the Premier League and could become a key player for the club in years to come.

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West Ham's third attacking signing is the relatively unknown Diafra Sakho, who arrives from French side Metz, whom he helped to achieve back-to-back promotions. Also 24, he has years to prove himself in the Premier League and offers Allardyce another option in the final third. 

At this early stage, it appears that West Ham could finally have solved their striker problems. Of course, many foreign players fail to adapt to the conditions of the Premier League, but in Valencia they have a potential world-class striker and have pulled off a real coup in securing his services.

Zarate arrives as a dependable and prolific striker - one with experience and the talents to regularly bag important goals for his club. Sakho comes highly-rated from Metz and will fight for a place in the team.

With Maiga potentially on the way out and Carroll injured, Allardyce will still have more than enough strikers to choose from and his latest arrivals appear sensible and well-considered.

While the loss of Carroll once again hurts the club that has invested so much money and patience into him, West Ham have now, at least, invested in some decent alternatives. With their abundance of new talent, it seems unlikely that captain Nolan, now 32, will finish top goal scorer for the third year in a row.

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West Ham United
Premier League
Sam Allardyce

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