It seems a well worn story at West Ham; the season approaching and their main man up front gets injured leaving many Irons fans scratching their heads as to where the goals will come from.
This campaign looks no different.
But with Andy Carroll set to be out till around Christmas, it could be the time to shine for a player who was once proclaimed to be “better than Messi”.
Mauro Zarate was in the form of his life at Lazio, when club’s owner Claudio Lotito made the (extremely) exaggerated comment, having been fulfilling the promise he had shown in his native Argentina.
But things didn’t work out after that in Italy, following a combination of differences with a number of managers, and controversies after the striker was photographed making questionable gestures with fans.
A move back to Velez Sarsfield saw him back to his best, netting 18 goals in 28 appearances for the Buenos Aires side, prior to a move to the Boleyn Ground.
With Ladbrokes offering a top price of 9/2 he looks the value to top score for the Hammers in the coming campaign.
A short spell with Birmingham at the end of the 2007/08 season saw him blooded into a troubled Blues squad gradually. He provided a few high points for an otherwise poor season for the West Midlands club, getting on the scoresheet four times from 15 appearances, most of them from the bench.
An aptitude for the Premier League looks to be well on agenda for the 27-year-old.
Enner Valencia has been brought in to fill the gap left by Carroll’s injury, and competition will be on for places, but the Ecuadorian wouldn’t be the first player to disappoint after signing on the back of a decent World Cup (Pablo Barrera anyone?).
If he does click in English football, a continuation of his current form – he’s scored 16 in his last 18 competitive games – would probably see him lead the way with goals for the Londoners, but at 6/4, he looks too short to take the risk.
Kevin Nolan has claimed the accolade for the last two seasons, scoring seven last year, and reaching the dizzy heights of 10 in 2012/13, and is priced up at 9/2 to bag a hat-trick.
He has however looked increasingly sluggish towards the end of the last campaign and throughout pre-season, and many West Ham fans will be questioning whether he warrants his place in the starting XI.
If the supporters get their way, the former Bolton man may not get quite so many chances in the claret and blue, with Zarate the likely man to take advantage.
All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publishing
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