Modibo Maiga is a player a little bit special for the overseas fan I am, not because there is a special relationship between the player and I, but because it has been possible for me to observe the player some years before he moved to train at Chadwell Heath.
Maiga has played 5 seasons in the French first tier. At the age of 19 he went to play on loan with Le Mans, a newly promoted side in the French Ligue 1. He was too young, and he played his first 6 months with the reserves but had been successful enough to be enrolled for a contract of 2 years.
In his first season he was only a sub and scored no goals but scored 8 goals in his second season, earning a new 2 year contract with the club. In his third season he started very well and was then scouted by bigger clubs, but he only scored 7 goals because he got into disputes with his club, as he wanted to leave in June.
Sochaux, finally offered him a ticket to ride away with a 4 year deal and an increase of wages. He did very well (15 goals for 36 games in the domestic league) and scouts were again interested in bringing him to the top French clubs. He was also scouted by top flight German clubs at that time.
He then asked Sochaux if he could move clubs and yet again another dispute started. He had changed to a Tevez/Suarez attitude with the owners of his club and refused to play in any friendlies. He was banned for a couple of games and finally agreed on staying for one more season. In that season he scored 9 goals in 21 League games.
Sochaux then tried to find the best way to get rid of him, then West Ham came along. Maiga has always been impressive with Sochaux. He has everything to perform in Premier League as he has some pace and also he’s able to compete in the air. That was a reason for me to be pleased to see him joining West Ham in order to help Carlton Cole and Sam Baldock in summer 2012.
The loan and then permanent deal of Andy Carroll has changed all of this and Sam Allardyce has moved to a different style of play, compared to the one where he performs the most. Maiga was not able to compete for a first team starting position and I was really afraid he would then go back to his pitfalls and make some plea to get a move to another club.
Some reported that he was not training as hard that he should and all the stories I read reminded me of his time back in France. I was then, as everybody was, much more focused on when we could sell him, rather than hoping for him to play for us again.
Bordeaux were interested in January but Maiga was too expensive for them, even on loan. The most important is that Maiga has become more mature in this situation.
However everybody deserves a second chance. He has prepared himself to be ready for when he is needed. The departure of Carlton Cole and the injury of Andy Carroll have convinced him to work harder and to try to convince Sam Allardyce that there is a future for him, maybe not by playing all the games but surely more than a few.
In the Cardiff game, I’ve got to say that I was happy with how he played. Of course he didn’t score but he could have, if Marshall had not made a fantastic save. Of course he had not shown his pace and skill, but who can blame him when Cardiff were keeping 4 players in the last quarter of the pitch, even when they possessed the ball. He did however win a couple of balls in the air. Everybody saw that he was there all the time creating movement, offering the space to Nolan for the second goal. Surely this Maiga can be useful and at least drive us in the cups when Andy will need to take it easy.
I won’t say that we don’t need a striker, but I would insist on the fact that Maiga deserves our support for what he did and what he can do when we need him. I would prefer him to stay instead of moving, as we need 3 strikers more than 2 anyway.