His season began in uncertainty and it will almost surely end in it, too. Yet before the current campaign comes to its close and Andy Carroll is spat back out into the purgatory of being a player on Liverpool's books that Liverpool clearly don't want around, he has found himself selected West Ham's player of the year by the club at their season-ending gala.
"I didn't know it was going to come along," said the 24-year-old striker, "but obviously I'm over the moon with it. Coming down here to London, it's a long way from home but I've enjoyed every minute of it. I knew a few of the lads down here already and all the others have welcomed me into the squad, so it's been great."
Injury troubles kept Carroll largely quiet throughout the first half of the season while out on loan with the Hammers, but in the new year he has finally rediscovered something of the form that convinced Liverpool he was worth spending £35M to pry him away from Newcastle two years ago. Now, it seems the only real question is whether West Ham can afford to keep him around full-time.
The prospects for that may not look good, at least if the player isn't willing to take a hefty pay cut that would keep the London club in compliance with the financial fair play rules that come into effect next season, but there's little doubt that he has become an integral part of Sam Allardyce's side and that in a perfect world all parties would prefer to see him remain in claret and blue next season.
"It's been unbelievable," Carroll said when asked about spending the year on loan with West Ham. "The lads in the dressing room and at the training ground and the banter have been unbelievable, as have the fans. With the football, it's been a great season for me. I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Carroll is however insistent that, wherever he ends up next season, he will work his hardest both to succeed personally and to see the team succeed, adding, "It doesn't really matter what happens, I will work hard for the team I am playing for."
If the coming summer is anything like the last, it might take until the final minutes of August before he and everyone else knows just who that will be for.
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