Diafra Sakho bagged another goal in West Ham’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday and continues to justify the club's £3.5million gamble.
The Senegalese forward has taken to the Premier League almost instantly since joining from French outfit Metz in the summer.
After making his debut during a brief substitute appearance against Crystal Palace, Sakho has scored four goals in four starts for the Hammers.
The 24-year-old’s goal against Manchester United was not as technically brilliant as his one the week previous, when he delicately chipped the ball over Simon Mignolet’s head to help his side to an impressive 3-1 victory over Liverpool, but he won’t care about that.
His simple header on Saturday pulled the Irons back into the match after having fallen two behind early on, and if it wasn’t for a great stop by David de Gea he might have got an equaliser, too.
It was a frustrating day for Sam Allardyce’s side, they dominated large portions of the match but were unable to convert their pressure into goals.
However the performance was again impressive and they created more chances than what the spectacular forward line of Manchester United could muster, although Wayne Rooney was sent off early on in the second-half.
The desire and work rate of the West Ham team this season has certainly improved and it all starts from the front, where Sakho and Enner Valencia lead by example. Sakho especially is looking like a gem.
A relatively unknown striker before he registered on the Hammers radar and it is strange now to think that the management team wanted to sign Sunderland’s Connor Wickham over him.
Sakho was considered as an unproven gamble but so far he has looked like an absolute steal, running the channels, powering past defenders and most importantly, finding the back of the net.
The striker has revealed how he has taken inspiration from one of his heroes, Didier Drogba, and he hopes to emulate his success in English football.
“When I was a youngster in Senegal my idol was El Hadji Diouf,” Sakho told the London Evening Standard.
“He was playing in England at the time. Now I would say it’s Didier Drogba. He’s helped me a lot to grow as a player and a person.”
“I was lucky in that my agent, who had known Didier for some time, spoke to him on my behalf.
“He asked Didier for his advice on a new player coming here to England. More importantly, since Didier heard about me, he has spoken to my agent a lot, giving advice about how to behave, how to handle myself in the Premier League. That has helped a lot.”
The Chelsea talisman is the reason why Sakho has taken the number 15 shirt at West Ham, too, and if he can get anywhere near to the standard Drogba reached in his prime he’ll be a star.
West Ham’s forward coach and goalscoring legend Teddy Sheringham has said how excited he is by the potential Sakho has showed in the opening weeks of the season, and he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to strikers.
The Senegal international was prolific while playing in France, first scoring 19 goals from 33 appearances to help Metz win promotion from division three and then 20 goals in 36 matches as the club won the second division last season.
Drogba also made his name scoring goals in France while at Marseille and he wasn’t spotted until he was 26, so Sakho could be on a similar path to the Ivory Coast front man.
The all-action style of the Premier League suits Sakho down to the ground and it should give him the perfect platform to showcase his talents, something the striker is already thriving on.
“In France, they are more tactical, more defensive,” he said.
“Here in the Premier League, the football is much quicker and the teams play attacking football much more, which is why you see more goals here. The fans at West Ham generate such a great atmosphere which is so important to me and something which will keep me here. As for the club moving to the Olympic Stadium, I can’t wait to go there and score as many goals as I can.”
It’s still early days but Sakho is already looking and sounding like a striker capable of doing the business, which will delight the board and fans, but consistency will be the key factor to his and West Ham's success this season.
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