West Ham Lead Liverpool in and Arsenal in the Race for the ‘Next Payet’

According to The Mirror, West Ham United have joined Arsenal and Liverpool in scouting Celta Vigo forward Nolito.

Nolito was linked with Arsenal, Liverpool, and his former club Barcelona in January, with the 29-year-old, claiming he actually turned down an offer from the Premier League ahead of the winter transfer window.

Scouts from both Premier League giants have continued to attend Celta games, according to the Sunday People, but the Hammers are now said to have joined the race for a player apparently valued by the Spanish club at around £18million.

Slaven Bilic’s man are on course for Europa League qualification, and with the move to the Olympic Stadium coming this summer as well as the new Premier League TV deal, Slaven Bilic’s men may splash the cash again this summer.

Last summer, the marquee signing was Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman arrived from Marseille having smashed seven goals and 16 assists last season, and he has continued that success with 12 goals and nine assists in all competitions for the Hammers.

Despite being 29, Payet is showing that proven quality is still valuable as clubs tend to go for younger players – but West Ham could use the same approach which landed Payet almost a year ago.

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The Mirror report that West Ham are looking to snap up Celta Vigo star Nolito, in a deal which could cost as much as £18m, which is what Celta are currently asking for.

The former Barcelona man, 29, hit 13 goals and 13 assists last season, giving him similar numbers to Payet, and he’s notched another 11 goals and six assists this term.

A Spanish international, Nolito can play as a playmaker or out wide, and possesses superb technical ability as well as quality from set pieces – aspects which have made Payet an Upton Park hero.

If Nolito does sign for the Hammers and has a similar impact to Payet, West Ham will certainly be pushing for the top four again – whilst proving that quality players approaching 30 can still be stars in the energetic, pace-driven Premier League. He has six caps for the Spain national side and ‘has designs on the Premier League’, the Sunday People says.