Where did it all go wrong for the South American ‘wonderkids’?

Valencia and Calleri arrived with big reputations but failed to deliver in England

West Ham have truly smashed open their piggy bank in this summer’s transfer market and signed some top quality players.

But in order to bring in new blood, we’re saying goodbye to some of the older, less successful blood, and saying goodbye to two strikers who failed to make their marks in England. As we bid our farewells to Enner Valencia and Jonathan Calleri, let’s take a look back to see where it all went wrong for our South American strikers at West Ham.

Valencia joined West Ham for an estimated £12 million in July 2014, while Calleri arrived much later (typical of him, really) in August 2016 on a season-long loan. Valencia came with powerful promise. The Ecuadorian is one of his country’s top ten goalscorers of all time, with 20 international goals to his name. Calleri arrived with a prestigious goal-scoring record from his time at Boca Juniors, and experience working with famed West Ham legend Carlos Tevez, which is probably the main qualification we looked at on his CV – assuming we had indeed done some research on him prior to his arrival and the jury is still out on that one.

Both forwards had experience abroad but both struggled to deliver in East London, particularly in front of goal. In his time at West Ham, Enner scored 10 goals in 66 games in all competitions and three goals in 23 games during his loan spell at Everton. Calleri scored just one goal in 18 appearances, of which only four were starts which didn’t cement either player as firm favourites to the Hammers. Valencia absorbed a lot of the fans’ frustration in his last season playing for West Ham.

He had pace, potential and drive but didn’t always deliver the finishing touch. When he did score, he was great and his free-kick away against Bournemouth in January 2016 will always be a favourite of mine. He looked his strongest on the wing, but never seemed to come to life when stood directly in front of goal. Was he played out of position while at West Ham, or did he simply struggle to get into position in general?

Calleri was a similarly frustrating player. For some, he was an incredibly hard worker but for others, he was excruciating to watch. He was immense against Spurs at home and played with passion, conviction and determination under the lights that night. He had fl ashes of a hard work ethic, but he never seemed to know exactly where to be and, presumably, couldn’t even finish his dinner.

He did manage to put a goal away against Middlesbrough but far more notable were his tremendous missed opportunities. This included his shocking attempt at a rabona in front of an open goal at the Stoke game which still keeps me up at night. It probably still keeps him up at night. I hope it does.

As part of the end of season clear out, West Ham have sold Enner Valencia and returned Jonathan Calleri to make space for different options up front and it’s a decision that’s been made for the best. It can’t have been an enjoyable time for the two strikers and it’s good for them as well as for West Ham that they have moved on. Already one has seen success in his new life.

Valencia was frustrated at both West Ham and Everton, but has made a tremendous impact already for new Liga MX club Tigres UANL, scoring a hattrick in his first game. Last time he played in Liga MX, he scored 18 goals in just 23 games and his return indicates he’s come back for more.

Presumably, we can expect more of the same from Calleri when he pulls on his boots for his next club and I’d put money on him never missing an open goal again in his career.

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