Allardyce praises Zarate
Mauro Zarate has "matured" enough to put his controversial days behind him and pull West Ham's attacking strings, according to Sam Allardyce.
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West Ham's Argentine summer signing volleyed a fine debut goal in Saturday's 3-1 Premier League victory at Crystal Palace.
Zarate was Argentina's top scorer last term with 20 goals in 35 games for Velez Sarsfield - a second stint at his home club following a turbulent four years at Lazio.
The versatile playmaker was photographed giving a fascist salute among Lazio's 'Ultras' fans during a two-match ban in 2010, though a spokesman later claimed he was unaware of the gesture's significance.
Zarate was then spotted on holiday in the Maldives in April 2013 when he had told Lazio he was in Argentina receiving medical treatment.
Allardyce hailed the 27-year-old's full debut, and backed him to make a big Premier League impact this season.
"The lad has grown up and matured, I remember his loan spell at Birmingham six years or so ago," said Allardyce.
"He's been to Italy and back to Argentina since then and scored some goals, I think he looks at his age a mature player with a lot of quality in the final-third which is something different from what we have."
Chronically toothless finishing scuppered West Ham in their season-opening 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham.
Saturday's comprehensive Selhurst Park victory played witness to an immediate reversal of fortunes in front of goal, with Zarate, Stewart Downing and Carlton Cole all claiming well-taken strikes.
Allardyce admitted he hopes his side can now seize on Saturday's victory.
"This time the quality of our finishing has been absolutely superb and that's why we're all so happy about the performance and the result," he said.
"Mauro's was a fantastic finish from outside the box and Stewart Downing's run and finish were both of the highest quality.
"Crystal Palace could not complain, they couldn't defend against the quality of those two goals, particularly so that was the icing on top of the cake for a great first-half performance."
Allardyce hailed Cheikhou Kouyate as another new recruit with the potential to wield influence at Upton Park this term.
The 24-year-old made the summer switch from Anderlecht, and Allardyce said his enthusiasm is proving infectious with his Hammers team-mates.
"I think he's got the modern-day midfield player written all over him," said the West Ham boss.
"The one thing maybe he might be missing is a goal or two, I don't know yet, but certainly he gets in that area a few of times.
"He's high-energy, two-footed, great box-to-box, committed in the air, he tackles: I think it's great to see a player that comes in with a big smile on his face every day.
"He's living his dream by playing in the Premier League."