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Aug 22, 2013

Marouane Chamakh: Allardyce lied

Crystal Palace striker Marouane Chamakh has told L'Equipe Sam Allardyce broke promises to him at West Ham, but said he has "no regrets" about moving to England despite struggling to establish himself.

Will Marouane Chamakh be all smiles at Crystal Palace?
Marouane Chamakh is hoping to make an impact at Crystal Palace.

• Daly: Pointless hussle

Chamakh, 29, was freed by Arsenal this summer after failing to meet expectations at the Emirates Stadium, and was immediately snapped up by Palace on a year-long deal.

After making just 40 Premier League appearances for the Gunners following his move from Bordeaux in 2010, the Morocco international had hoped to give his flagging career a shot in the arm by joining the Hammers last January, but claims Allardyce let him down.

"I made a bad choice. It didn't go well at all. The manager promised me that with Andy Carroll's injury, I was going to be able to play. He did not keep his word at all," said Chamakh, who played just three times in the English top flight for West Ham.

"Alou Diarra had warned me. But I just did what I wanted and went anyway. I was had. That's why I took a bit of time to say 'yes' to Crystal Palace. I didn't want to make the same mistake twice."

Having almost joined Sunderland a year earlier, Chamakh had arrived at Arsenal on a free transfer in 2010 with a glowing reputation forged under Laurent Blanc at Bordeaux, where he was central to Les Girondins' Ligue 1 title success in 2009-10, and their run to the Champions League quarter-finals the following season.

With a powerful physique and excellent aerial game, Chamakh, who made his professional debut at Bordeaux in 2002, seemed tailor-made for the English game.

However, after a maiden season in which he struck 11 times in 44 games in all competitions for Arsenal, he suffered in comparison to the prolific Robin van Persie, before realising his time was up when the club brought in Olivier Giroud from Montpellier last summer.

"The first season was very good. After that, I played a lot less,” Chamakh said. “I was behind Robin. It was difficult because he was on fire. As long as the system didn't change, there was no comparison between him and me. He was the number one. I understood the manager's choice.

“When Van Persie left, I said to myself that perhaps I would have the chance to play, but I quickly understood the manager wanted to put Olivier, who'd just arrived, in the best possible environment. That's why I went to West Ham in January."

He added: "I would have liked more playing time at Arsenal. I respect the coach's decisions, but I didn't always get my chance. When I came off the bench and things went well, it didn't necessarily pay off afterwards.

"It's a little frustrating, but it's also my fault. Perhaps I was too stubborn by wanting to stay there for so long despite the fact it seemed they were pointing me in another direction."

Chamakh's Arsenal form was not helped by a blackmail threat made in January of 2011, and now he has to contend with the upheaval of moving across London to be closer to his new club.

However, despite having scored just eight goals in 44 Premier League appearances, he remains convinced his decision to cross the Channel was the right one.

"It's perhaps not going quite the way I planned,” Chamakh said. “I would have liked to have played more, enjoyed myself, scored goals. But I have no regrets, because I think I've found what I came for: this league, this atmosphere. It's magnificent. Even in a small stadium like Crystal Palace's. That's what I want: a great game from the first whistle to the last in an extraordinary atmosphere."

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