San Lorenzo export Enner Valencia lighting up Premier League
The most striking thing about San Lorenzo, a popular tourist destination on the north coast of Ecuador, is its everlasting port, where much vaunted assets, the likes of balsa wood and tagua, are exported to eager recipients overseas. They have, though, dried up and balsa wood and tagua are scarcely exported nowadays.
San Lorenzo can, however, count Enner Valencia, West Ham United’s summer signing who is lighting up the Premier League, as their latest and viably their most venerated export. Acquired for £12 million from Mexican club C.F Pachuca in the summer, Valencia is determined to repay Sam Allardyce’s faith and to appease the raucous Upton Park faithful.
He is, after all, where has always wanted to be, asserting his pace, skill and technique in a league as vaunted as the Premier League and is taking full advantage of an opportunity he cherishes.
The enegetic, endeavouring Ecuadorian came to prominence during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil but his impact at West Ham, having scored twice and provided an assist in 500 minutes of Premier League football, should not seem at all surprising. Valencia, after all, is a natural goalscorer, a striker with a burning love for goals, and more importantly, possesses the necessary killer instinct.
He made his name at Club Sport Emelec, scoring 27 goals in 124 appearances at the Ecuadorian club, before moving to Pachuca and competing in the Mexican Premier Dvision League only this year. 18 goals in 23 games and a sterling World Cup campaign were sufficient to get a mesmerised Allardyce calling. Not that he regrets it, of course.
Valencia scored three goals at the World Cup in Brazil, two against Honduras and one against Switzerland, as Ecuador came very close to advancing beyond the group phase and into the knockout stages. It so transpired that his verve, energy, speed and endeavour attracting attention from all corners of Europe.
At one point, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid were believed to be interested in the proposition of acquiring Valencia, who was put up for sale by Pachuca with the Mexican club eager for financial income, but their interest is said to have waned. West Ham intervened and a deal was secured without hesitation, a £12 million deal agreed and a five-year deal penned. Valencia has very quickly become a pivotal member of Allardyce’s West Ham revolution.
For West Ham and Valencia, the decision is paying off, asserting its logic on the Premier League. Valencia has formed a lethal partnership with Diafra Sakho, another low-profile acquisition from Allardyce who is taking the Premier League by storm, having scored six in seven league appearances. The Ecuadorian, though, offers much more than mere goals. Take his performance against Manchester City at Upton Park on Saturday as an adequate example.
Valencia was a menace to the City defence, constantly harrying Elaquim Mangala and Vincent Kompany, even inflicting his briliance on the wings, roaming across the final third, sprinting down the channels and shimmering with danger.. In tandem with strike partner Sakho, Valencia has condemned Andy Carroll to a ghost of West Ham’s past and a representation of the club’s previous struggles and adversities. Oh, and Kevin Nolan too.
He left Mangala for dead in the build-up to Morgan Amalfitano’s opener, latching onto Alex Song’s searching, incisive pass, speeding intensely beyond the French centre-half as Mangala endeavoured to abstain from conceding a penalty. Valencia pounced on his slight hesitation, noticed Amalfitano’s clever run and delivered an accurate pull-back beyond the grounded Pablo Zabaleta and the on-looking Kompany.
Such was the speed with which he roared beyond Mangala, the speed with which he has endeared himself to the appreciative West Ham support, that Valencia crashed into the advertisement hoardings and into the away City support.
He didn’t stop there. The Ecuadorian’s mercurial skill was pivotal in the build-up to West Ham’s second when Sakho headed powerfully past Joe Hart. The Goal Decision System was required to decide the legitimacy of the goal but it has not taken long for the Bobby Moore Stand to decide whether Valencia is a true Hammer.
After all, the export from San Lorenzo is lighting up the Premier League.Published 27 Oct 2014, 20:37 IST