West Ham isn’t ready to quit on Simone Zaza.
Arriving in east London on an initial season-long loan from Juventus, the 25-year-old could seal a permanent £20-million move if he makes 10 more Premier League appearances by next summer.
Some critics suggested in recent weeks he could return to the Old Lady in January to avoid the hefty bill, but manager Slaven Bilic has contested that idea.
“This one is false. He’s our player, we got him, he’s here,” Bilic told reporters ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace. “He’s training good and we expect him to do the job.”
Without a goal in his first four Premier League appearances, the Italian striker has yet to offer a solution to the club’s scoring problems. He’s not alone – none of West Ham’s forwards have found the net thus far – but Zaza’s potential cost is the source of growing consternation.
A place in the Italy squad has also been taken from him. Despite representing his country at Euro 2016, Zaza was left at home for the Azzurri’s latest batch of World Cup qualifiers.
He was also moored to the bench for West Ham’s last fixture against Middlesbrough, and Bilic admitted he’s not yet determined whether Zaza will start against Palace.
The Hammers are stuck in the relegation zone with just a single win in seven league matches – a horrendous beginning to life in the contentious confines of London Stadium.
Part of that is down to a dearth of quality in front of goal. The burden has been shouldered by Michail Antonio, a winger turned right-back turned centre-forward who accounts for five of West Ham’s eight tallies.
Andre Ayew, Andy Carroll, and Diafra Sakho have all missed time through injury, while loanee Jonathan Calleri has struggled to settle in English football.
It’s up to Zaza to end the curse of the West Ham striker.