4. West Ham’s Czech Mates
No doubt one of the best moments of 2020 for West Ham was their newfound friendship with Czech side, SK Slavia Prague. The Hammers loaned in Slavia midfielder Tomas Soucek in the January transfer window and were inspired by his performances.
Soucek turned out to be a player that fans have been screaming out for since the days of Slaven Bilic. The midfielder has an engine that allows him to get up and down the pitch for the full ninety minutes. Soucek is also a threat in the opposition box.
The 25-year-old scored three goals during the run-in of last season, including vital goals against Chelsea and Watford. Soucek has carried on this form in front of goal this season with his current tally of four goals. The towering midfielder has become one of the biggest threats in the West Ham line-up.
The new relationship between West Ham and Slavia Prague didn’t stop at Soucek. In the summer window, the Hammers returned to the Czech side and this time snagged their right-back, Vladimir Coufal after Ryan Fredericks picked up an injury. It is believed that Soucek suggested the right-back to the club himself, earning him the tag ‘Agent Soucek‘.
Coufal cost the club £5 million and turned out to be one of the bargains of the summer. The 28-year-old has proved to be a solid defensive full-back, something that the Hammers have struggled to find in recent years. Coufal, like Soucek, has a brilliant engine on him and can contribute at the other end of the pitch as well.
The right-back has already picked up two assists this season in twelve appearances, including a brilliant cross for Michail Antonio‘s overhead kick against Manchester City. Despite being rested in West Ham’s last game of the year, it is expected that Coufal will return to the line-up against Everton and will be ever-present in the future.
The new Czech imports’ success has inspired the Hammers, who now continue to be linked with a host of current and former SK Slavia Prague players. The club are rumoured to be interested in Abdallah Sima and Alex Kral. If the duo are signed and have the same impact as Soucek and Coufal, West Ham could find themselves moving up the table.