Simone Zaza has insisted he was chiefly to blame for the failure of his recent loan spell at West Ham United. The Juventus striker officially called time on a wretched 11-game stint at London Stadium on Sunday (15 January) after agreeing to join La Liga relegation battlers Valencia on a temporary basis until the end of the season.
Zaza will not look back on his time in English football with any fondness having started just five Premier League matches and failed to find the net in any of his forgettable 11 appearances across all competitions. Some may point to a lack of regular opportunity as a key contributing factor behind such a lack of form, although the player himself admits that he was not in the right place mentally and struggled to adapt to the culture change.
"It was a very difficult time for me," the Italian international was quoted as saying by Superdeporte during his maiden Valencia press conference. "When I joined from Juventus I was very optimistic, I wanted to experience playing in England because I thought it was the football that I liked and where I could use my qualities.
"Everything started badly from the outset, I think the main blame lies with me because I was not right mentally, I was very negative and in all the things that happened I never saw the positive side. There was an atmosphere, a culture very different to mine. That was a problem. Now I'm here I feel bad not to have shown in England what I'm capable of."
Zaza initially joined West Ham on a season-long loan deal that would have automatically resulted in a permanent €20m (£17.5m, $21.3m) transfer after 14 outings. Despite his lacklustre performances in claret and blue, manager Slaven Bilic recently described the 25-year-old as a "good player" and pointed out that, due to his contract situation, the Hammers had only seven or eight games in which to judge him.
While Zaza does not appear to blame Bilic or West Ham for his lack of impact, the question of whether he actually wanted to join the club in the first place was raised by his father and agent earlier this month.
"Now we're trying to bring Simone back to Italy because he loves this country. We didn't choose West Ham," Antonio Zaza told Juvenews before his switch to Valencia was confirmed. "No-one forced us, but Simone never wanted to go abroad, he loves Italy and Serie A. A series of circumstances led to him going to the Premier League...Now he's gone and we look to the future."