The year is 2012. West Ham United have just been promoted back into the Premier League and they waste no time in signing up players to consolidate their newly found Premier League status. Amongst those is a 24 year old Malian international who goes by the name of Modibo Maïga. Maïga, subject of heavy interest from Newcastle United the previous season, arrived in East London with a respectable 24 league goals in 59 goals during his two seasons with Ligue 1 outfit Sochaux. The £4.7 million man had shown at his former clubs that he was capable of scoring goals with Raja Casablanca and Le Mans also benefitting from the Malian hitman.
The weird world of Modibo Maïga
And Maïga could’ve got his West Ham career off to the best possible start on the opening day of the 2012/13 season against Aston Villa. After entering the field of play on the 81st minute he waited just 10 minutes to show the Hammers faithful what he was capable of – after skillfully rounding Shay Given in the Villa penalty area he, and most of the 34,172 inside Upton Park that summer afternoon must’ve thought he’d secured the points for West Ham only for his effort to be cleared off the line by backtracking defender Nathan Baker. Despite not getting his name on the scoresheet he certainly wet the West Ham fans appetite. Ten days later and he did have his first goal for West Ham, securing a 2-0 win at home against Crewe Alexandra in the League Cup. Three more goals followed that season, all at home in impressive wins against Southampton and Chelsea and in a League Cup defeat against Wigan Athletic. Okay, he might not have found the form he had in France but perhaps in his second season he’d come better?
Wrong. It took our Modibo over a year to final his next goal, again in the League Cup, a late, late header against rivals Tottenham Hotspur to fire West Ham into the semi finals and let’s be honest, if you haven’t scored in a year and seventeen days that’s the match you’d want to break your duck in. He scored just once more that season, in a 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion. A goal that brung tears to his eyes and more would probably follow after being loaned out to Queens Park Rangers (no, not in that way) he scored on his debut against fellow promotion rivals Burnley but failed to find the net in his next seven games after struggling to pin down a first team spot. All this alongside then QPR manager Harry Redknapp questioning his ability.
The Malian returned to West Ham United at the beginning of the 2014/15 season as a shunned man; a black sheep. He was made, by manager Sam Allardyce, to train and play with the development squad, featuring in pre season warm ups against Braintree Town and even failing to be substituted on against Woking. An exit seemed imminent and with August drawing to a close, he made his way back to France, signing a season long loan with an option to buy at the end of the season with newly promoted Metz.
Yet more misery mounted up for Modibo at Metz. Like with his loan move to QPR, he failed to hold down a position in the starting XI and the fans well and truly got in his back after a string of unconvincing performances he was booed off the pitch after another lacklustre performance away at Rennes. But the taunts seemed to work, as he scored a brace against Caen in the next league match to help Metz on their way to three points. Two games later and he’d done it again! Two more goals, this time against defending French champions Paris Saint-Germain took his tally for Metz up to four. But yet again, trouble followed him. After being told he was being dropped against Marseille, Maïga refused to join the team and fly to the Stade Velodrome which resulted in him being given a 48 hour ban from football activities at Metz. April saw Maïga score his first hat trick against Toulouse since God knows when and you’d think this would strengthen West Ham’s case to offload him this summer.
To conclude, Maïga clearly seems to perform better over the Channel in France, however that’s not to say he shouldn’t be given one last chance to prove his worth to the Hammers next season with a section of the support pondering if he’d finally flourish in claret and blue in our new found system of football. Well, it’s a better system than last season’s anyway.