Journalist Paul Brown believes that an inability to agree a new contract is affecting Tomas Soucek’s form at West Ham, leaping to the defence of the Czech Republic midfielder.

The 27-year-old has played every minute of the club’s seven Premier League games so far this term but it has been a disappointing start for the Hammers, who sit in the bottom three heading into the international break.

The 2020/21 Hammer of the Year has been one of David Moyes’ most used players during his tenure in charge, but a standoff in contract talks has clouded his future. Talks were put on hold in May as Moyes wished for his players to focus on the final weeks of last season, which led to suggestions of a fallout between manager and player.

The Sun cast further doubt over the 6 ft 4 “man mountain” and his future in east London as the two parties failed to come to an agreement on fresh terms. It was suggested that £67k-per-week star wasn’t in line for a pay rise and could be sold for an offer in the region of £30m, which led to proposed interest from Everton, Newcastle United and Aston Villa, while he is also a name mentioned in recruitment meetings at Tottenham.

Soucek has come under fire for some of his recent performances, with Antony Martin of Hammers News slating him after Sunday’s defeat to Everton and Martin Keown saying that the midfielder looked “leggy” in last week’s win over Silkeborg.

There has been calls for summer signing Flynn Downes to start in the former Slavia Prague man’s place, and while Brown is aware that it could be a huge gamble, he insists that Soucek’s “dip in form” could force Moyes’ hand. However, he defended the Czech ace by explaining that the contract impasse may be “playing on his mind”.

Brown’s comments on Soucek

He told GIVEMESPORT: “It’s always risky to throw any of your kids into a team that’s struggling a little bit, but I do understand the frustration with Soucek. He’s not looked the same player for some time now.

“There were lots of stories about him not seeing eye-to-eye with the manager. There was talk about him being up for sale in the summer and his contract situation dragged on. I’m sure all that’s been playing on his mind and may be the reason behind his dip in form.”

Soucek still contributing plenty

Hailed as ‘tremendous’ by former Leeds striker Noel Whelan, Soucek still ranks second among his team-mates for average match rating according to SofaScore and is one of only three West Ham players to score in the Premier League this season.

He also ranks second for tackles and interceptions and joint-first for blocks in the Irons’ squad (WhoScored), which would suggest he is still having an influence in games despite the recent criticism.

With a match against fellow strugglers Wolves to come after the international break, it could well be the perfect opportunity for both Soucek and West Ham to finally kickstart their Premier League campaign.