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When Nikola Vlasic returned to England this summer it was with a point to prove. He had arrived at Everton as a 19 year old, catching the eye of Ronald Koeman early in his time at Goodison Park. Then came the Sam Allardyce interregnum where Premier League survival took precedence over developing youngsters. Marco Silva's appointment at the start of the following season brought an abrupt end to the Croatian youngster's chances. It would be some time before he would have the chance to show the English game what he could do.

Now at West Ham, Vlasic is determined to show the growth that came from three years in CSKA Moscow, where he was at the heart of a side competing in the upper reaches of the Russian league. He is, he tells CBS Sports, a greatly improved player from the youngster who joined Everton four years ago. The attributes he highlights as having improved in recent years are "my all around football game, speed, quickness, technique, understanding of the game.

"Before I was more conscious about concentrating on myself: what can I do with the ball.  Now it's more concentration on how I can make other players better, playing one and two touch football. When you are young you want the ball all the time and you want to go against players but it's different now."

He may not have been demanding the ball anymore with CSKA but he was doing a lot with it when it came his way. In 108 appearances for the Russian giants he provided 33 goals and 21 assists, averaging a direct contribution to a goal every 107 minutes. Not for nothing were the likes of Napoli and Atalanta pursuing him before a $35 million switch to the London Stadium on August 31.

There was no question for Vlasic that the Premier League was the place to show that growth as a player, a message that was drummed into him by his team mates in the Croatian national team.

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"I spoke with [Mateo] Kovacic who has played in Italy and La Liga and he told me that for him Premier League is the hardest, that it's really hard to play this league. Of course it's a challenge. I was very young when I was at Everton and now I hope I can show everybody what I can do."

When he takes the pitch against Genk in the Europa League on Thursday, Vlasic will not be the only player determined to make an impression on English audiences. West Ham may be relative rookies on the European stage but their status as Premier League representatives in the competition immediately marks them out as a scalp for their opposition.

"Other leagues look at Premier League and say it is the best league in the world," Vlasic says. "When they have an opportunity to play against a team from the Premier League they want to see where they are [against them], how they can fight this team and know whether they are of being on their level. It will be big motivation for them."

Even Genk's struggles in the Belgian league, where they sit sixth, have not convinced Vlasic that Thursday's match will be an easy task. However it is one he expects them to overcome, crucial if David Moyes' side are to swiftly secure top spot in Group H and with it a bye to the round of 16 in the new year.

"They're a good team that like to play football, that like possession," the Croatian forward says of Genk. "They'll come here not in the best form -- they lost four of the last five games --  but of course it will be a big motivation for them to play against a team that is doing so well in Premier League.

"They will want to show themselves and will be full of energy. But if we are on our level I think we should win this game."

For West Ham's new signing the Europa League also offers a chance to make an on field impact on Moyes. The manager was glowing in his assessment of Vlasic in his pre-match press conference but indicated that time would be needed for him to adapt and that he was looking to ease the 24 year old into a more consistent role.

It helps Moyes and West Ham that there is such competition for places in the three positions behind Michail Antonio. Jarrod Bowen has three assists and a goal in his last five matches whilst Pablo Formals and Said Benrahma have hit rich veins of form this season, the latter scoring a wonderful late effort to secure the Hammers' 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna in their last group game.

Fornals and Benrahma may stand between Vlasic and a regular starting spot in the Premier League  but they also show the new signing that he can still be a success at West Ham even if he does not hit the ground running. Fornals has gone from a disappointing start to life in London to a Spanish international while the Algerian has four goals and two assists in 10 games across all competitions this summer. They, Bowen and Antonio make for one of the top flight's most effective attacking forces.

"The other forwards understand the game. They're very good with the ball, quick players who can go beyond players and also can play one-two touches," Vlasic says. "I'm really happy to play with these kinds of players and to learn from them. They already have experience in the Premier League and I think they can help me to improve also. I know it's tough competition for me -- very good players in my positions -- but I'm not scared of competition I want to be as good as them and even better to take their place.

"Competition is good for me and also for them. In every club it should be like that, players pull each other to be better and better every training session. It is only a good thing in my opinion. It's the only way to improve that way."

Vlasic knows that he may have to bide his time before getting into Moyes' side week in, week out but he will not settle for anything less. "When a player comes to a new club he always expects to be a main player from the start but it's hard to do it like that. For now it's not a situation where I'm one of the main players but I hope in the future it will be like that. I didn't come here to be bench player and I'm here to start big games week in and week out."