There has been big news for Czech soccer this week, with international midfielder Tomáš Souček joining English Premier League side West Ham. The deal could be short-lived if the club get relegated – but otherwise the 24-year-old should become one of the most expensive Czech players of all time.
The English Premier League club are paying CZK 113 million to loan the Czech international from Slavia Prague until the summer. And if the relegation-threatened side avoid the drop, they will be obliged to spend another CZK 408 million to make the deal permanent.
The combined figure for Souček would be close to the amount Borussia Dortmund paid Sparta Prague for Tomáš Rosický, the previous record for a Czech player.
Souček says signing with West Ham is something of a dream come true.
“I started watching the Premier League as a small boy. It can be described as one of the top five leagues in the world. For me West Ham is a traditional club with a history. It’s in London and they have a gorgeous stadium. And it’s an enormous challenge to play here in this team.”
Football journalist Jan Podroužek has known Souček for several years. He believes the rangy defensive midfielder has what it takes to succeed at his new home.
“Tomáš Souček was a great player in the Czech league. His productivity, his style of playing and his mentality as the captain of Slavia Prague were very useful for the team, for his teammates and for the coach. A very strong side of his style is his very physical play. He can play in the opponent’s box and in his own box. He’s also very responsible, and I think that’s very useful for a team fighting for safety in the Premier League.”
Podroužek says the staggered model of the move to West Ham represents zero risk to either Souček or Slavia; in the worst possible scenario he would be back at the Czech club – who seem nailed on to win the domestic league – with valuable experience by the summer.
“I spoke to Tomáš yesterday evening and his opinion, and also mine, is that he is making a very good choice in this form of joining West Ham. Tomáš has good time to adapt and to acclimate to English football and to the Premier League. I think he’s a winner, West Ham is a winner and Slavia is a winner.”
In the past Czech players such as Luděk Mikloško, Tomáš Řepka and Radoslav Kováč had spells at West Ham.
Tomáš Souček’s move to the Hammers could well make him the most visible Czech in the English top flight, given that his compatriot Matěj Vydra has only made 11 appearances for Burnley in 18 months.
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