Three reasons why top clubs should have bid for Hammers’ Enner Valencia
Trevor Murray takes a look at the easy-season form of West Ham United summer signing Enner Valencia
World Cup form was a massive enticement
Anyone not all-too engrossed in the form or drama of the Premier League’s major players might well have picked out Aston Villa as the most eye-catching success story from the opening few weeks of action. But clambering to get more spotlight attention has also been West Ham’s summer signing Enner Valencia. Surprisingly, the Boleyn Park club didn’t face a great deal of competition for his signature and if he reproduces his World Cup form, it’s likely many of the big-guns will be kicking themselves come the end of the season. Coming off the back of a superb display at the summer’s World Cup in Brazil, Valencia managed to haul himself from the Mexican Liga MX to one of the most entertaining league’s in Europe in the space of a few short weeks. Granted, it’s often a huge gamble to pursue a player based on less than a handful of performances, but it looks as though the risk is already starting to pay off with a number of positive displays from only a couple of starts. His three World Cup goals were all that the Ecuadorians could muster in total, but it showed how influential a team player he can be. Netting two against Honduras and another against Switzerland in Group E, the 25-year-old attacker more than left his mark, and although Reinaldo Rueda’s side exited the tournament earlier than they would have liked, Valencia made sure the world remembered his name. In particular, his aerial prowess was a joy to behold – a trait that should come in handy during the rough and tumble of weekend matchdays as the Hammers look to improve upon their 13th-place finish from last season.
Recent displays are more than encouraging
His thundering cracker against Hull City in gameweek four’s Monday night encounter forced what wasn’t expected to be a hugely entertaining clash to grab quite a number of morning headlines. Manager Sam Allardyce will have been happy to see his new purchase make such an impact on his club’s affairs – disintegrating all notions that Valencia’s talents were a mere flash in the pan in Brazil. Add this to his role in the way they foiled Liverpool at the weekend and it’s clear the men in claret and blue have a fantastic new asset to their squad. More than competent from set-pieces, he gave Simon Mignolet something to think about with a well-struck effort from around 30 yards out, but the ‘keeper palmed it away to safety. And he also troubled him a few minutes later with a low-driven, accurate shot, but again he was denied. Nevertheless, although he didn’t manage to score he was very effective in creating chances and continuing to pile the pressure on a struggling Reds side. Having silenced the Merseysiders, they certainly won’t fear a trip to Old Trafford at the weekend or, indeed, their encounters with newly-promoted pair Queens Park Rangers and Burnley in the coming few weeks.
Hammers now possess bargain goal-getter
Goal-scoring was a real problem for Allardyce’s side last season as the amount of goals they garnered was equal to the number of points they mustered – only 40. The one real positive from the 2013/14 campaign, at least on paper however, was their defensive record. They conceded less than Swansea City, Newcastle United, Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur, all of whom finished ahead of them in the final standings. Realising that a beefed-up and high-calibre strike force was clearly needed, all involved behind the scenes at the east London club worked hard getting deals done, splashing out £12m on the capture of Valencia. So far, it’s been money well spent as he’s not only added a pacy, gung-ho threat moving forward, but he’s also shown that mid-table clubs like West Ham needn’t be afraid to go after promising talents like him – because now they’ve got a player in their ranks who can flick a switch in their performance; he adds an extra gear to their gameplan. And, as the former Pachuca player is already a valuable squad member, it’s likely the Hammers will do all they can to hold on to him if more exclusive parties become interested in acquiring his services come next summer. Netting 12 times for Pachuca in the Clausura before departing, he was the division’s top scorer, and if he can reach a similar target in England’s best league, he’ll have more than proven his capacity in the long-run.