West Ham’s search for a midfielder this past winter left them in many strange places. One of the chases left them in China to pursue Marouane Fellaini, while another left them chasing Roberto Gagliardini at the San Siro from Inter. The smart betting broker was not surprised when none of that worked out, they had to settle for Slavia Prague’s Tomas Soucek.
And no one would have thought that this lesser-known signing from the Czech Republic would start very well in the Premier League. And it has come to a point where Soucek’s performances in the campaign could determine West Ham’s survival this season. Since his arrival the sportsbook platform has made the Hammers favourites for staying up.
Currently 25, Soucek has made only three Premier League appearances this season for David Moyes’ side. The side only had two proper central midfield options before- Mark Noble and Declan Rice. Playing Soucek hasn’t just given them depth but it has been adding more spice and venom to that position of the park.
Against Brighton, West Ham used a three-man midfield with Soucek playing beside Noble and Rice. The Czech won 100 percent of his tackles, making three clearances and winning as many as three aerial duels as well. He also had one key pass to his name.
In a 2-0 loss to Man City, Soucek was the best player for the Hammers. When others struggled to get stuck in to a flowing City side, he won two tackles and five aerial duels. It was another promising display in only his second game for the side.
Against Liverpool, Soucek had another good display. He was in a double pivot beside Rice, winning five aerial duels and making seven clearances. Against a much superior side once again, he was often a source of dominance. It was as to what Soucek brings to the plate- a fighting spark and the desire to never give up. He takes some burden off a young Rice too.
That is the attribute Moyes praised him for after the City game. He said: “Of course, it’s not all about running, but it’s a substantial part and it definitely helps us. When we signed Tomas, I felt it was one of his strengths. We talked about needing some legs in West Ham, a little more energy, running and covering more space.”
And it is a myth that Soucek is a deep-lying midfielder. He is also a keen goalscorer and creator. For Slavia, he got eight goals and three assists this season in the league while playing 17 games for them. In the UEFA Champions League, he got goals against Borussia Dortmund and Inter.
In an attacking system, he would constantly get forward and do the attacking bits. He would press the option into losing the ball, using his workrate to wonderful effect. And that is why he would be so crucial in the end of the season run-in.
Pablo Fornals did score against Liverpool but he’s not been at his best. Manuel Lanzini isn’t at his best either, leaving the Hammers without too many goals from midfield. That is what Soucek brings- some heart, determination and running which lifts the team. He can score goals and do everything a team demands.
When the season ends, Hammers fans might be hailing goalscorers if they survive. But they should remember to hail Soucek if he plays regularly. If he plays, he will make an impact.