Previous Club: Club Atlético Vélez Sársfield
Previous Division: Argentine Primera División
Transfer Date: 28/05/2014
Reported Fee: Free Transfer
As with every new signing West Ham United make these days, Mauro Zárate is dividing opinion amongst supporters before he even steps foot onto the hallowed turf of the Boleyn Ground.
Depending on your point of view, Zárate is either a failure outside of his homeland, or exactly the type of player we need to take us to the mysterious 'next level' for which we always strive, yet never quite reach.
In truth, both schools of thought have an element of truth to them.
Zárate has never been as prolific outside of Argentina as he has been when playing for his first (and last) club Vélez Sársfield. The striker has managed to bag double figures four times in his playing career, but only once in his five seasons in Europe (2008/09 with SS Lazio). Though it should be remembered that goals are harder to come by in the Italian Serie A.
That said, Zárate has been a rather prolific scorer/creator over the past 7 seasons, since he surfaced in Europe after a (very) short spell in the Middle East. The graph below shows his minutes per goal / assist ratio since the 2007/08 season with Birmingham City.
Over that time, Zárate has managed to score or create a goal once every 148 minutes.
There is an old cliche in football that you're only as good as your last game.
If that is true, Zárate can only really be judged on his last season. Although the quality of Argentina's top division is not quite the same as the Premier League, the striker managed a very impressive 20 goals in 35 appearances - at a rate of one goal every 135 minutes.
Compare this to his new West Ham team mates.
Club record signing Andy Carroll managed a goal every 568 minutes last season - more than triple the rate of top scoring striker Carlton Cole (179). As you can see below, Zárate's rate puts him in second place to only Ricardo Vâz Te, though the Portuguese struggled for fitness and minutes, so his figure is warped somewhat.
Unfortunately, no major stats sites collate information on the Argentinian leagues, so an in depth analysis of Zárate will have to wait. But what we do know is that the Argentine scores and creates goals when he's given time on the pitch.
At the very least, this free signing will boost competition at the business end of the pitch. At best, we could have a real talent on our hands.
I guess we wait and see which camp is correct.