West Ham have completed the signing of 27 year old Argentine striker Mauro Zarate from Velez Sarsfield. Having been one of Europe’s biggest young talents several years ago, Zarate fell off the radar somewhat recently, but he is still an excellent player, and should he play to his best, he will be an amazing signing for West Ham. He is also one of my favourite players, so I really hope he is a success in the Premier League.
Mauro began his career at Velez Sarsfield in Argentina. At 17, he was promoted from the youth team into the first team. His breakout season was in 2006/07, when he scored 19 goals, and was promptly signed for around £15m by Qatari side Al-Sadd. After only six months in Qatar, he joined Birmingham City on loan for six months of the 2007/08 season. He scored 4 goals in 14 appearances for Birmingham, not enough to keep them from relegation, but although he was only there for a brief period, he scored some memorable goals and Blues fans have fond memories of him. The following season, he joined Serie A side Lazio on loan, and that was the season he really burst onto the scene of European football. He scored 13 goals in Serie A, and also helping them to win the Coppa Italia with a goal in the semi-final and final. His performances for Lazio convinced the normally stingy president Claudio Lotito to splash out £20m for his permanent signing. However, his next season would be something of a let down, as he only scored 3 league goals, and only 8 in total. The next season was a little better, with 9 goals, but the manager Edy Reja was critical of his use of the ball, saying he is “too in love with the ball” and should pass more. In 2011/12, he went on loan to Inter Milan, scoring just twice in 22 league appearances, although he was used mainly as a substitute. When Inter decided against making his signing permanent, he returned to Lazio, and with Reja gone, he got his head down and prepared for the new season at Lazio. However, despite playing regularly in the Europe League, manager Petkovic couldn’t find room for him in the team for league games. This led to a falling out with the management, and he was ostracised from the team. He ended the season with only league appearance, and just one goal in the Europa League. His Lazio contract was terminated at the end of the season, and he returned to his first club Velez. This move seems to have revitalised him – he finished the top scorer in Argentina last season, with a tally of 20 goals in 35 games in all competitions. This has persuaded Sam Allardyce to bring him to West Ham.
Style of Play
Zarate is most comfortable playing up front, but he has also played on the left wing, allowing him to cut inside onto his stronger right foot. He is a very pacy and skillful dribbler, but has often been accused of being too greedy. He has scored several free kicks and spectacular long range strikes in his time, and he certainly has an eye for the spectacular. The best way for West Ham to utilise him would probably be in a front two with Andy Carroll, allowing him to benefit from Carroll’s flick-ons.
After showing so much early promise, Zarate clearly became unhappy in Italy and failed to play like he could. However, his brilliant form in Argentina shows that he is still an excellent player, and if Big Sam can find a way to get him playing to his best, there is no reason why he can’t be a brilliant addition to the Premier League. As a big fan of him myself, I wish him all the best.