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West Ham sign Argentinian striker on three-year deal

16:53 28 May 2014

Mauro Zarate. Arfa/Griffiths Photographers

Mauro Zarate. Arfa/Griffiths Photographers

Griffiths Photographers

West Ham have completed the signing of highly-rated Argentinian forward Mauro Zarate from Velez Sarsfield.

The 27-year-old passed a medical with the Hammers on Wednesday morning before signing a three-year deal at Upton Park.

Zarate, who counts Birmingham, Lazio and Inter Milan among his former clubs, becomes manager Sam Allardyce’s first signing of the summer.

“My reaction is that I am very happy to be at West Ham,” said Zarate, who scored 20 goals in 35 matches in all competitions for Velez last season.

“This is a new chance for me and I want to play. I think I played well for Velez this season and that was important for me. I had some good team-mates and they helped to make it a fantastic season for me.

“I know English football from my time at Birmingham and I hope I will play well and reach the highest possible level.”

Zarate is a controversial figure as in 2010 while with Lazio, and on suspension for two games for insulting a referee, he was photographed giving a fascist salute.

Standing with Lazio’s infamous ‘Ultras’ section of fans in watching a loss to Bari, Zarate’s spokesperson claimed the player was unaware of the significance of his actions.

In April last year, Zarate was supposed to be in Argentina receiving treatment for a skin condition after presenting the club with a doctor’s note, only to be spotted on holiday in the Maldives.

At the time Zarate was not training with the first team due to persistent disciplinary issues.

It was at the end of the 2012-13 season, after spending four years with Lazio that included a spell on loan with Inter Milan, that Zarate returned to his first club Velez.

In his first spell, Zarate scored 28 goals in 99 appearances, and then last season he finished as leading scorer in the Clausura with 13 goals in 19 appearances, prompting Allardyce to bring the forward to Upton Park.

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