Slaven Bilic has confirmed the signing of the striker Jonathan Calleri on a season-long loan from Uruguayan side Deportivo Maldonado.
The 22-year-old, who made his name at Boca Juniors and spent the past six months on loan at the Brazilian club São Paulo, was in the Argentina squad who were eliminated from the Olympic Games in Rio after being held to a 1-1 draw by Honduras.Calleri’s economic rights were purchased by Maldonado – a second division side with average attendances of around 200 with links to the Stellar Group, Gareth Bale’s agents – at the start of 2016.
“West Ham United are delighted to confirm a deal has been agreed to sign Argentinean striker Jonathan Calleri on a season-long loan, subject to international clearance.A loan fee and personal terms have been agreed with Calleri and his club Deportivo Maldonado and the 22-year-old is expected to arrive in London next week.
The exciting frontman will link up with the Hammers after appearing and scoring for his country at the Rio Olympic Games, and on the back of a prolific 18 months at club level.Manager Slaven Bilic says the capture of Calleri, who finished as leading scorer at the 2016 Copa Libertadores, will add balance to the Hammers’ attacking options.
“We have agreed to sign Calleri,” he said “Unfortunately for him, but good for us, Argentina were knocked out of the Olympics this week, so he should be here with us pretty soon, depending on the work permit.“We did the deal a little while ago, and he is a top striker. You need a squad, of course, but it is all about the balance. I think we have a good balance.”
Born in Buenos Aires, Calleri started his career with Primera Division side All Boys, making his senior debut at the age of 19 in August 2013.The young forward’s ability and promise attracted the attention of Argentina’s biggest clubs and it was no surprise when legendary South American coach Carlos Bianchi took him to Boca Juniors in July 2014.
There, Calleri netted his first goal on his second start at Estudiantes before celebrating his 20th birthday with the winner against local rivals Racing Club.The busy South American fixture list saw Calleri amass an impressive 53 appearances, 21 goals and eleven assists in a successful 18-month spell with Boca that saw him win the Primera Division and Copa Argentina double in late 2015.
The exciting youngster joined Uruguayan club Deportivo Maldonado in January 2016 and was soon loaned to Brazilian giants Sao Paulo.Calleri spent six months in southern Brazil, scoring 16 goals in 30 appearances, including an impressive nine in 12 Copa Libertadores ties – the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League – as Sao Paulo reached the semi-finals.
After the deal is complete, he will become the sixth Argentine to play for West Ham after Lionel Scaloni, Javier Mascherano, Carlos Tevez, Mauro Zarate and current star Manuel Lanzini”.