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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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West Ham chase Riquelme

West Ham have confirmed to Soccernet that they have sounded out Juan Roman Riquelme, in the hope of making a major signing.

Riquelme, 31, who fell out with Argentina coach Diego Maradona and failed to make the Word Cup squad, is one of a group of potential 'marquee' signings the Hammers are examining.

Riquelme is out of contract at Boca Juniors and showed little enthusiasm for English football when he had the chance to sign for Everton on loan two years ago, but may now have changed his mind about a crack in the Premier League, according to his agent.

Once with Villarreal and Barcelona it would be a coup for the Hammers to land him, and initial approaches have been made.

Sources at Upton Park confirmed there has been contact with the player, although midfield is not a priority position for new manager Hammers Avram Grant.

"I have had several offers from clubs in Argentina and there is an English club asking about me and my agent is dealing with it," Riquelme said.

"The location of London, the challenge at West Ham and working beside the likes of Scott Parker and Thomas Hitzlsperger have been very important factors in him considering the move," his agent Barry McIntosh commented.

"Right now, we think the best option, the most likely, and the one he's most interested in is West Ham." "For a foreign player of Riquelme's magnitude, the lure of London is always going to be a deciding factor. Also, he'd like to be a part of the project at West Ham, and what David Sullivan and David Gold have got in mind for the future for the club, including the new stadium," his agent added.

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