Tomas Soucek is proving his doubters wrong at West Ham.
Many feared that the Hammers would struggle when they sold Declan Rice to Arsenal for £100million in July.
The sale funded an influx of fresh midfielders, with the Czech international suggested as the man to make way for the new arrivals.
Instead, his rediscovered goalscoring touch is proving vital. Ahead of West Ham’s Europa League tie at Backa Topola this evening, we examine Soucek’s revival.
Soucek scored a 91st-minute winner last Saturday that saw West Ham claim a 2-1 comeback victory at Burnley.
It was the second successive game in which he had made a crucial late contribution, having found the net to seal a 3-2 triumph over Nottingham Forest prior to the international break.
After the win against the Clarets, Soucek spoke about how he had inspired his team-mates.
He said: “At half-time, the boys weren’t happy and the manager wasn’t happy.
“We were playing very slowly, then we came out and within a few minutes we’d conceded.
“There was a moment when Burnley had a corner and I just said to the others, ‘Come on guys, we need to do better’.
“We managed that and because of our spirit and belief, we won all three points.”
After Rice departed, West Ham brought in Edson Alvarez, James Ward-Prowse and Mohammed Kudus to bolster their options in the middle of the park.
David Moyes has since been trying to find the right midfield balance, with a squad that also includes the attacking talents of Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma and Lucas Paqueta.
Some West Ham fans suggested that it should be Soucek sacrificed due to his lack of technical quality but after the Burnley win, Moyes praised his Czech talent.
He said: “It’s difficult because we’re trying to get the right blend to the team and get the right players in.
“But we’re also trying to get the players who we think are in form into the team and playing in form.
“And Tomas is certainly in form. If it’s the goals you’re talking about, he has six this season already, so that alone is a really good starting point.
“I thought when he got that chance, he took it like somebody who is in a confident mode of scoring. He’s doing great.”
Soucek has scored six times this season in 18 games, which is a reminder of the goalscoring form that he initially showed when he joined West Ham.
In his first full season at the club in 2020-21, the rangy midfielder scored 10 times from 38 Premier League appearances.
It was only when Rice was freed to play a more attacking role and Soucek took on more defensive duties, that the goals dried up.
With the England star now gone, the Slavia Prague academy graduate is back doing what he does best with Moyes playing him just behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation in the last two games.
The 28-year-old’s heading ability will always make him a threat and the Irons now have the sort of creative players that can serve up regular opportunities.
There is plenty of competition for places at the London Stadium but while Soucek is scoring, he deserves his spot alongside some of his more glamorous team-mates.