Transfer Opinion: £17.5m-rated Hammer who’s been worth every penny

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Tomas Soucek started the season under the glittering lights of the Champions League, starring for Slavia Prague in a group containing Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan. The Czech side may have finished bottom with just two points, but they made a big impression after drawing with Inter and Barca at the San Siro and Camp Nou. They also scored four goals against their highly-rated opposition, half of which Soucek bagged.

His eye-catching displays against some of Europe’s elite attracted West Ham’s interest and having arrived at the London Stadium in January, Soucek’s not looked back since. The Czech Republic international has already scored three goals in 11 appearances for the Irons, which have helped David Moyes’ side secure seven vital points.

As part of his loan deal, the midfielder has an obligation to buy, which will have been triggered upon the Hammers’ survival. It has been reported that the Irons are already well underway in negotiation with the player of his personal terms, and they will have to pay Slavia Prague £13.5m on top of his £4m loan fee.

Given the impact that the 25-year-old has had since arriving in East London, it appears, so far at least, that he will be worth every penny of his relatively modest £17.5m fee. In Just six months, since he has arrived at West Ham, Soucek has become one of the Irons’ most important players, and only Michail Antonio has a higher average match rating, 7.39, than the Czech’s 7.19.

Sitting alongside Declan Rice in a holding midfield role suits Soucek, and the 21-year-old is the only player to record more interceptions per match, two, than the 25-year-old’s 1.8. Furthermore, Soucek’s 2.1 tackles per game put him very close to the top of the pile for the Hammers, highlighting how he has exerted a tremendous influence at both ends of the pitch.

So far, the only majorly concerning aspect of Soucek’s game has been his reliability in possession, with the midfielder retaining a pass accuracy of just 68.5 per cent in the Premier League. It is uncommon to see a midfielder concede the ball so frequently, especially when Rice alongside him is almost immaculate, keeping an 85.7 per cent pass accuracy.

If Soucek can continue his blistering goalscoring form, three in his last five matches, while also protecting the defence, his £17.5m move will appear to be a Moyes masterstroke. The Czech Republic international has re-energised the West Ham midfield and should continue to be a regular feature at the London Stadium next term.

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