Jonathan Calleri had already confirmed as much whilst away on international duty with the Argentina squad at the Olympic games but following La Albiceleste’s elimination, West Ham United have now officially announced the 22-year-old signing on a season-long loan.
The loan fee and personal terms have been agreed with Calleri and his club Deportivo Maldonado and the former Boca Juniors striker is expected in London next week.
West Ham coach Slaven Bilic said in a press conference, “We signed Calleri. Unfortunately for him but good for us Argentina were knocked out of the Olympics on Wednesday, they didn’t pass the group stage so he should be here with us – not today, not tomorrow, but pretty soon, depending on work permit or whatever.”
“We did the deal not a long time ago but not yesterday, and he is a top striker as well. You need a squad but it is also about the balance.”
Despite not showing his best in Rio de Janeiro with the Argentina Olympic side, a move to Europe is perhaps eight months overdue for Calleri.
After emerging from All Boys academy and impressing in the Argentine top flight during their relegation season, Calleri moved to Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors where he scored 23 goals in 60 appearances during a hugely successful 18-month period that saw Boca complete a league and cup double.
A switch to one of Europe’s major leagues beckoned until his economic rights were purchased by Uruguayan minnows Deportivo Maldonado, a club with a history of ‘signing’ players on behalf of third-party management group, the Stellar Group.
This led to Calleri spending the last six months on loan with São Paulo, which has only enhanced his reputation thanks to an impressive tally of 16 goals from 31 appearances and the golden boot from this year’s Copa Libertadores.
Interest in the young striker has been intense but it is understood that West Ham co-owner David Sullivan struck a deal with Stellar Group owner, Jonathan Barnett for a fee of around £4 million.
West Ham have already added Andre Ayew and are said to be still in the market for another striker so Calleri will have to impress Slaven Bilic for a first team place but after speaking to his former Boca Juniors striker partner, Carlos Tevez, the 22-year-old was convinced that the Hammers provided a wonderful opportunity.
A penalty box finisher, who has so far stepped up to every challenge put in front of him, Calleri now faces his biggest test and he and the West Ham faithful may need some patience if he is to prove a success at the London Stadium.