West Ham boss Sam Allardyce urges Mauro Zarate to fight for his place

Sam Allardyce Press Conference Disappointed 12/02/2014

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has told Mauro Zarate that he needs to fight for his place.

Many of Sam Allardyce's summer signings have impressed at West Ham so far this season, with Aaron Cresswell, Alex Song, Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia all playing a huge part in the Hammers' great start.

However, Mauro Zarate's career at Upton Park hasn't quite lived up to expectations yet. The former Argentina Under-20 star arrived from Velez Sarsfield this summer, and whilst he scored against Crystal Palace, he hasn't featured since the start of October.

That has triggered speculation that the 27-year-old could return to Italy with Torino, but Allardyce has addressed the situation in his press conference today, saying that Zarate is still in his plans - but has urged him to fight for his place.

"His future at West Ham is that he has a contract here and has to fight for his place like everybody else," Allardyce said.

"Everybody sets off on a level playing field at the start of the season. He started well but then a few of his performances didn’t get up to the level that we saw him at at Crystal Palace."

"Valencia and Sakho have taken over, the brilliance of those two has made life for Mauro, Carlton Cole and even Andy Carroll difficult," he added. "You have to work for your place now and perform at the top when you get in. If your form dips then your place goes too."

It's a sign of West Ham's progress this season that Allardyce now has an embarrassment of riches in attack, and Zarate knows that he needs to step up his game in order to get back in the side.

In fact, playing as a striker may not be the best way to use Zarate. The former Lazio star is a flair player with great creativity, and maybe Allardyce should instead see Zarate as direct competition with Stewart Downing.

Downing features in the hole behind Sakho and Valencia, and Zarate would be a good fit to play there - but he needs something to break for him to get back into the side, such as an injury or a dip of form from one of the starters in attack.

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