Liam Ridgewell believes Birmingham City team-mate Mauro Zarate is ready to make an impact in the Barclays Premier League.
The 20-year-old Argentine (right), who comes from the Haedo district of Buenos Aires, has been quietly acclimatising to life in Birmingham after swapping the heat of Al-Sadd in Qatar for the chilly climate of the Midlands during the January transfer window.
But the on-loan striker, who joined Al-Sadd in a deal reputedly worth $20 million after starring for Argentina in the 2007 Under-20 World Cup and scoring the winning goal in the final against the Czech Republic, is beginning to fit in at Wast Hills and Ridgewell said the youngster, who speaks very little English, was even joining in with the training ground banter.
He said: "It is difficult because of the language barrier but he is up for a laugh, a bit of banter and the jokes that are flying around.
"He gets involved and takes it as well. I think he might just be laughing because we are and he laughs with us. He is a great lad and gets on with it. He doesn't try to hide away because he doesn't know the language."
So far, Zarate, who Blues manager Alex Mcleish admits was a surprise signing, has made only two brief but e ntertaining cameo appearances as a second-half substitute.
He gave Birmingham fans the only thing to shout about after appearing during the second half of the dreadful performance at Sunderland and then bamboozled Derby County after coming on to make his St Andrew's debut three weeks ago.
His promising and direct runs not only dragged the home supporters to their feet on several occasions, they also drew some typically English uncompromising tackles from the Derby players that day.
But Ridgewell has seen enough in those two cameo performances and out on the training ground to make him believe Zarate is ready to become Blues' secret weapon as they seek to secure Premier League survival, starting with the visit of Arsenal on Saturday (12.45).
The Blues vice-captain also thinks the tender-aged Argentinian can learn a great deal from his fellow countryman Carlos Tevez, of Manchester United.
"I think Mauro is a fantastic player and a great acquisition for the club," he said.
"He has quick feet and a low centre of balance. Hopefully, when he gets used to the style of play he can be fantastic for Blues.
"On the training pitch he has looked great. Obviously, it is taking it on to the pitch now that counts.
"Tevez has adapted superbly to the Premiership so maybe Mauro can look at him and see what he has done. I think he will be at his best when he is just allowed to roam about and cause havoc. He will be hard to pick up and with his great feet I think that would be a good role for him."
The arrival of Zarate drew comparisons with the last time Blues were promoted to the Premier League and the January arrival of Christophe Dugarry proved to be the catalyst to survival.
However, while it would be totally unfair to expect the relatively inexperienced Zarate to have the same impact as the former French World Cup-winning striker, McLeish is hoping his new arrival will play a significant role in pulling Birmingham up the table.
"He is getting sharper with every training session," McLeish said.
"He has been playing Middle Eastern football which is too easy for him. There is no doubt he is a talent and you could see that when he came on against Sunderland and Derby.
"We have got to be confident he can make an impact. He has a lot of confidence. He can make a difference to the team if he plays but he can also make a difference to the other players, get a reaction from them. They can give performances that make it difficult for me to leave anyone out."
Meanwhile, McLeish will be buoyed ahead of the visit of Arsenal by the return of Olivier Kapo, Gary O'Connor and Franck Queudrue. Kapo is back after suspension, O'Connor has recovered from an abscess in his mouth and Queudrue is fit after a hamstring tear.