Written by Rhys Paul
Diafra Sakho’s time as a West Ham player might be about to end sooner rather than later. Apparently the subject of an £11 million bid by ex-manager, Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland, reports have now emerged that the striker has told Slaven Bilic he wishes to leave the club this Summer. If this does turn out to be true, it is unlikely Bilic will deny Sakho a move – although it will hopefully not be on the cheap – and this means that his career in Claret & Blue will come to an end after only two seasons.
credit John Seb Barber
An unexpected and impressive debut season in East London for the 26 year old saw him net 12 times in only 26 appearances – a very good return for a £3.5 million signing. He became the first West Ham player to score in each of his first six starts – including a winner against defending champions, Manchester City – and this run deservedly earned Sakho the October Player of the Month award in 2014. This run arguably remains the highlight of his time at West Ham (so far) and since then he has failed to come close to matching this prolific start. To put this into perspective, he would only score four more times in the league during the 2014/15 season. Last season’s campaign was plagued by injuries even more than the season before and this had a direct impact on Sakho’s goal tally (7 goals in 23 appearances). Even so, 5 goals in 20 league appearances is hardly encouraging. It begs the question, did Sakho peak too early? Or did he set a standard he simply could not reach on a consistent basis? Either way, Sakho seems increasingly unlikely to be the striker West Ham need to score on a regular basis. The final game of the season – which could have easily denied the club European football (you know, the type of game when you need your striker to show up) – is evidence of this with the Senegalese front-man failing to put away his chances and putting in an altogether bad performance, with this proving to be crucial as Stoke scored with one of their only chances in the game to take the 3 points.
As a player, Sakho can be lively and dangerous when in the mood to terrorise defences. However, anybody who has kept an eye on him since he came over to England will be able to tell he has an attitude problem. West Ham are accustomed to temperamental mavericks, but Sakho fails to have the same connection with the supporters as cult hero, Paolo Di Canio had and this means he will never enjoy the same amount of leeway. You could even attribute a drop-off in form last season to his relationship with Bilic being poorer than it was with Allardyce. Although it has been denied that his outburst on Snapchat (of all the social media sites) was aimed at the manager following reports he feigned injury once he became aware Andy Carroll was starting ahead of him against Arsenal in April 2016. Few fans a year ago would have opted to start Carroll over Sakho, but Bilic did and the pony-tailed Geordie repaid that faith. Even so, a rumoured conflict with Alex Song stemming from Sakho’s outburst appeared to back the latter with Song apparently being informed he would not be joining the club on a permanent basis because of his role in the conflict. Personal issues, including allegations of domestic assault and crashing a £200,000 Lamborghini, have also attracted unnecessary attention and have helped Sakho make more appearances in the front of the papers rather than the back.
From a business point-of-view, the selling-on of a £3.5 million for the £11 million offered seems like a very good deal for the club. It speaks volumes that Sakho’s value has tripled in just two seasons. His impact has been undeniable and he has proven that he can be one of the most dangerous strikers in the league on his day, but whether or not he justifies such a high price tag remains to be seen. If the club is successful in bringing in a big-money striker (unfortunately attempts have so far been the opposite), then the sale of Sakho for such a profit would be a good way of bringing in extra funds for other players. If Sunderland does turn out to be his next destination, he will link-up with the manager who brought him to the Premier League and this should help him ease the load on Jermain Defoe as the team’s main source of goals. At only 26, he still has a good few years ahead of him and this means the signing of Sakho could be a risk worth taking; especially for clubs languishing in mid-table.
For West Ham, the fans, Bilic and the board will agree that it is best to move a player on once their heart is no longer in playing for the club. His sale will probably be greeted with disappointment, not because the player was sold, but rather because he promised so much. If the reports are true, then it is sad that Sakho has tainted his reputation in the eyes of the supporters by asking to be sold – but I’m sure he can ask Defoe how that went down if he joins him at the Stadium of Light.
West Ham fans, should Sakho be sold? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by John Seb Barber