Sam Allardyce reckons striker Mauro Zarate has put his bad old days behind him and can become the team’s ‘attacking strings puller.’
Zarate- 20 goals in 35 games for Velez Sarsfield last season – has had more than his share of controversial moments during a colourful career.
He has been photographed giving a fascist salute among Lazio’s ‘Ultras’ fans during a two-match ban in 2010, though a spokesman later claimed he was unaware of the gesture’s significance.
And having been spotted on holiday in the Maldives, having told Lazio he was in Argentina receiving medical treatment, he had a reputation to live down when arriving at the Boleyn.
But after a brilliant debut against Palace yesterday Allardyce said: “The lad has grown up and matured, I remember his loan spell at Birmingham six years or so ago
‘He’s been to Italy and back to Argentina since then and scored some goals, I think he looks at his age a mature player with a lot of quality in the final-third which is something different from what we have.’
‘This time the quality of our finishing has been absolutely superb and that’s why we’re all so happy about the performance and the result,’ he said.
‘Mauro’s was a fantastic finish from outside the box and Stewart Downing’s run and finish were both of the highest quality.
Crystal Palace could not complain, they couldn’t defend against the quality of those two goals, particularly so that was the icing on top of the cake for a great first-half performance.’
Allardyce hailed Cheikhou Kouyate as another new recruit with the potential to wield influence at Upton Park this term.
He said: “I think he’s the perfect modern midfielder – the one thing maybe he might be missing is a goal or two, I don’t know yet, but certainly he gets in that area a few times.
‘He’s high-energy, two-footed, great box-to-box, committed in the air, he tackles: I think it’s great to see a player that comes in with a big smile on his face every day. He’s living his dream by playing in the Premier League.’