West Ham leading race to sign Jefferson Montero

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West Ham are reported to be leading Arsenal in pursuit of highly regarded Ecuadorian winger Jefferson Montero - a player backed by compatriot Antonio Valencia to have a notable impact on the Premier League were he to secure a transfer.

Montero was linked with a move to West Ham a year ago and Sam Allardyce would appear keen to reignite his interest in the 24-year-old, who is currently on international duty at the World Cup in Brazil.

Another attacking recruit

Allardyce has been tasked by the West Ham owners to establish his side as a greater attacking force next season after the criticism levelled at the manager by supporters for the team’s negative style of player. Following the acquisition of forward Mauro Zarate, the Daily Express reports Allardyce now favours another South American recruit.

The Hammers are seemingly the frontrunners to sign Montero, although Arsenal have been credited with interest in the player. If West Ham are able to complete a deal, it will be the second time this summer they have landed a player to have been wanted by Arsenal, following the signing of Cheikhou Kouyate on Wednesday.

Needed at Arsenal?

While Arsenal’s name has been placed in the frame with regards Montero, it would seem unlikely that Arsene Wenger would mount a serious pursuit to sign the player given the vast options he already has in this position.

If there is an area in which the Gunners are spoilt for choice then it is on the flanks, with Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla all having frequenty occupied wide positions.

The priority for Wenger remains the signing of proven central striker rather than another wide-man, with Mario Balotelli appearing to be the most likely player to provide competition for Olivier Giroud at the Emirates Stadium from next season.

A ringing endorsement

Montero’s Premier League credentials have been endorsed by Antonio Valencia, the Manchester United player and Ecuador captain, who claims his international colleague is tailor made for the English top-flight.

Valencia, who may well leave Old Trafford this summer, responded with the following when asked which Ecuador player is must suited to the Premier League: "I would say Jefferson Montero because he is an intelligent player and someone who is improving his football daily."

This is good news indeed for West Ham, who will require a far greater contribution from the flanks next season in order to summon the best from striker Andy Carroll. Last summer they signed Stewart Downing from Liverpool, who proved a predictable disappointed, and fans will hope that Montero offers something of an upgrade.

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