The Daily Mail have reported that Malian forward Modibo Maiga is the subject of a £4 million bid from Big Sam, as West Ham emerge as the leading candidates to secure the signature of the much sought after striker.
Despite an endless slurry of rumours regarding the striker situation at Upton Park, there appears to be substantial weight to this particular rumour. But would he fit into the infamous Allardyce system?
The Mali international, 24, caught the attention of European clubs in 2011 following his instrumental role in Sochaux’s surpise 5th place finish in Legue 1, in which the striker amassed 15 league goals.
Maiga and his team have had a somewhat more tumultuous year in 2011/12 however, and after his 9 goals helped Sochaux to a 14th place finish, the Malian international is widely expected to leave for greener pastures.
Sam Allardyce has been desperate to bolster his attacking options, as the Hammers look to face the might of the Premier League with only two senior strikers on their books. Carlton Cole has significant Premier League experience, but Ricardo Vaz Te, despite a successful campaign, remains a long term injury concern.
In recent weeks media outlets have linked the club with virtually every striker on the market: from England-based players such as Grant Holt, Kenwyne Jones and Ross McCormack, to foreign talent such as Ryoichi Maeda and Joselu, West Ham have been linked to virtually every available forward. The Mirror even suggested Allardyce is hoping to attract Nicholas Anelka to the Boleyn Ground.
There is one thing all of these forwards have in common: strength, height and power. Big Sam’s brand of direct, aggressive football needs no introduction. His infamous footballing philosophy requires, perhaps more than anything else, being spearheaded by strong forwards capable of winning aerial challenges and bullying defenders. Modibo Maiga certainly meets the criteria.
Having started his career as a winger at Le Mans before becoming the robust striker that he is today, Maiga is not dissimilar to the one that got away: Demba Ba. Sam Allardyce likes to compliment a traditional number 9 with this sort of striker: one that is not only strong and good in the air, but also possesses pace and trickery.
Since becoming a central striker, Maiga has consistently displayed his strength and heading ability, as well as retaining his explosive wide-play. Allardyce’s West Ham are in desperate need of adding flair to their ranks, and considering Maiga already possesses the core attributes Big Sam expects of forwards, he could be a very profitable source of inspiration.
If further proof of his proficiency is needed, then a collapsed move to Newcastle in January should raise a few eyebrows. Their scouting network is hugely respected, and any unknown player approached by Graham Carr and co. is almost certainly worthy of the West Ham shirt. Whether they can tie up the deal before other suitors become interested remains to be seen.
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