West Ham must strive to keep Mauro Zarate on their books

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If reports are to be believed, it looks as if Mauro Zarate is set to end a second spell at a Premier League club with little more than a whimper after making a bright start, with the likes of Torino and Southampton reportedly after the West Ham forward.

But for the Hammers to sell the Argentine could prove a disaster, despite the fact that the number 10 has started just two games in three months.

With a debut wonder goal against Crystal Palace it looked as if the former Velez Sarsfield man could be on for another decent crack at English football, after displaying ample talent during a loan move to Birmingham in 2008.

But with Diafra Salkho hitting top form and Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll returning from injury, he has found himself absent from many a starting XI in the East End of late.

His agent has reportedly stated that his client is unhappy and wants first team football, but Sam Allardyce must convince him to sit tight and bide his time.

The Hammers currently sit fourth in the league and show no signs of slowing after a blistering start to the campaign.

The form of the aforementioned Sakho and Valencia and later Carroll has been a joy to watch for fans of the men in claret and blue.

However with the former likely to be off to the Africa Cup of Nations in January and the latter known for his injuries rather than exploits on the pitch in recent years, numbers need to be kept up.

It is more than that though. What has been apparent since Carroll’s return is the options and different styles Sam Allardyce is now able to adopt to suit the opponent.

With the former Newcastle striker working well with his mate Kevin Nolan, the much maligned ‘direct’ style of football can be delivered.

Then with the pace and trickery Sakho and Valencia possess a more fluid brand of football can be brought out when needed.

That is where Zarate fits in. He almost slots in like a halfway house; possessing decent ball control and dribbling skills but is far from weak on the ball.

He’s bagged twice from just 415 minutes of football for West Ham this season, so a respectable return, but it is the adaptability that he allows Big Sam to have that means keeping him in the squad is a necessity.

The Londoners are 3/1 for a top six finish, or 16/1 for the more optimistic Hammers fans who fancy them to break the top four, and strength in numbers will be vital.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.