sport

Zarate closes on Prem return

Argentine striker Mauro Zarate is closing on a return to England with West Ham United, according to his brother and agent.

Rolando Zarate has revealed that the striker played his final game for Velez Sarsfield on Tuesday when he scored twice in their win at San Lorenzo to help them end the campaign in sixth.

The 27-year-old re-joined Velez - the club where he began his career - last July from Italian side Lazio, and he has performed well with 18 goals in 28 starts to finish as top scorer in the Argentine top flight.

Now former Birmingham forward Zarate looks set to return to England with long-term admirers West Ham hoping to clinch a deal.

Zarate impressed at St Andrew's during a loan spell at the end of the 2007/08 season, but he could not help them stay in the Premier League.

His brother Rolando now says a move to Upton Park is close and told Velez y su mundo: "We have almost everything sorted out with West Ham, they asked him not to play against San Lorenzo but he wanted to play."

Zarate's brother - himself a former Argentina international - admitted he was sad to be leaving Velez again.

"Mauro Zarate and his family's love for Velez is huge, but the club receive a good financial compensation."

Sky Sports understands that Zarate is due to arrive in England this week and, although there is rival interest both in the Premier League and around Europe, West Ham are in pole position.