Can West Ham United’s new Italian talent have the same impact on the Hammers as club legend Paolo Di Canio did between 1999 and 2003? Gianfranco Zola signed Alessandro Diamanti for a fee of around £6 million in the summer. Big money for an untested player especially in light of West Ham’s supposed financial handicap. But it could prove to be a smart acquisition by Zola in light of the past weekends game.
After scoring a controversial penalty against Liverpool on Saturday he has been thrown into the limelight for the wrong reasons. Chris Waddle who commentated on the match for ESPN UK was convinced that Diamanti touched the ball twice – as he took the penalty- but the Italian himself is adamant he scored a legitimate goal, “I don’t care what TV shows. It deserved a goal. I don’t believe I touched it twice. I was trying to hit it down the middle and that is what happened.” I will leave you to make up your own mind.
Signed from Livrono in Serie A, Diamanti was a star in Serie B last year, guiding the Amaranti to promotion with six goals in the final ten matches of the season as the Tuscan side went up via the playoffs. He is also accustomed to scoring magnificent long-range efforts, such as the edge of the box volley for Livorno against Triestina.
His current boss has likened the player to himself and former Hammer, Di Canio, as Zola told Italian sports daily, Gazzetta dello Sport: “He’s a cross between myself and Paolo Di Canio.” These are large boots to fill given the standing Di Canio has amongst the West Ham faithful and after the performance against Liverpool he showed that the potential is most definitely there.
Alessandro Diamanti is a very pacy player with fantastic ball control and explosive shot, with the added bonous of being a set-piece specialist, it appears West Ham have unearthed another Italian gem. He is somewhat of a late bloomer, spending most of his career so far in the lower divisions of Italian football with hometown club Prato, and it wasn’t until he befriended Fabio Galante who recommended him to the Livrono chairman.
More recently, for West Ham reserves he banged in two magnificent free kicks in a 6-0 rout over Birmingham, after almost six months out. It is his goals but also his personality that will win over the fans, Diamanti stated on joining, “I chose West Ham because the club have the tradition of playing great football. Also, because the West Ham fans are really passionate and that is the way I am.”
Once full match fitness is achieved he will be a real thorn in the side of Premier League defences. You have been warned.