West Ham’s 13 South Americans under Gold & Sullivan – and how they fared

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Felipe Anderson celebrates

Felipe Anderson has completed his loan move from West Ham United to FC Porto, bringing an end to what has been a seriously underwhelming period.

The Brazilian is one of 13 South Americans who have been brought into the club since David Gold and Sullivan took over the Hammers in 2010 – and it’s safe to say their impact on the side has varied.

So, from Jonathan Calleri to Manuel Lanzini, here is every South American signed for West Ham by their current owners and how they have fared.

Brian Montenegro

It’s mad to think that Brian Montenegro is now 27 years old, or that he actually exists at all.

In 2011, when West Ham were in the Championship, the Paraguayan was brought in on loan from Uruguayan side Deportivo Maldonado. He managed just one solitary appearance across the whole campaign, playing 12 minutes in an FA Cup third-round loss against Sheffield Wednesday.

It turns out he had another underwhelming loan spell with Leeds United. Though, in fairness to him, he has forged a good career for himself back in South America, currently representing Olimpia alongside former Manchester City man Roque Santa Cruz.

Wellington Paulista

January 2013 brought about some very strange loan signings for West Ham: Marouane Chamakh joined from Arsenal, Emmanuel Pogatetz came in from Wolfsburg, while Wellington Paulista was brought in from Cruzeiro. Nobody out of the trio really covered themselves in glory, but Paulista didn’t get the chance to.

The Brazilian didn’t actually make any first-team appearances for the Hammers, getting on the bench twice – against Southampton and Reading – while spending most of his time with the U21s.

Considering how little input he and his fellow loanees had, you may be surprised to find out that Sam Allardyce’s men actually finished 10th in the Premier League.

Pablo Armero

When West Ham signed Armero on loan in January 2014, it was actually a pretty exciting move. He’d started the season as a regular for Napoli, playing the full 90 minutes in two Champions League wins over Marseille and another against Arsenal.

However, this didn’t turn out to be the great signing that was hoped for, as he made four league starts for the Hammers, losing in three of them.

This underwhelming spell didn’t impact his career at all though. He headed straight off to the World Cup, where he played the full 90 minutes in every one of Colombia’s matches, as James Rodriguez and co. lit up the tournament before being beaten by Brazil in the quarter-final. He then went to Udinese, before being loaned out to AC Milan.

Mauro Zarate

Signed from Velez Sarsfield in 2014, Zarate was an exciting talent who had his fair share of big moments, including key goals in wins over Arsenal and Chelsea. As well as showing flair on the ball, he actually had a decent return, getting seven goals and three assists in 29 games.

Despite this, he failed to find the consistency needed to become a permanent feature in the team. After being loaned out to Queens Park Rangers for the second half of his first term at Upton Park, he was sacrificed halfway through the final campaign at West Ham’s spiritual home to help fund a move for Sam Byram, which is a pretty harsh indictment of how he fared.

Diego Poyet

There was plenty of hope when Poyet moved across London from Charlton Athletic. The son of Chelsea legend Gus, he looked good during the first Europa League qualifiers campaign to end in an embarrassing exit at the hands of Astra Giurgiu. He was even afforded 75 minutes in a Premier League match against Manchester United.

However, he quickly faded into the background and was finally let go after three loans. Short spells with Godoy Cruz and Pafos FC in Argentina and Cyprus followed before he retired in 2018 at the age of 23.

Enner Valencia

Following his arrival from CF Pachuca in 2014, Valencia provided some brilliant moments for Hammers fans – most notably that absolute banger against Hull City that went flying in off the crossbar.

He also scored one of the two West Ham goals that led to the thrilling penalty shootout victory over Everton in the FA Cup, which is best remembered for Adrian throwing off his gloves and slotting his spot-kick into the bottom corner.

A bit like Zarate, the Ecuadorian couldn’t find consistency, so was loaned out to Everton for a year in 2016, before permanently signing for Tigres UANL in 2017.


When Nenê was at Paris Saint-Germain, he was an absolute joy to watch. However, when he arrived at Upton Park in February 2015 – having been released by Qatari club Al-Gharafa – he wasn’t the same player. Nene and Allardyce was already an ambitious crossover of styles, but his aging legs didn’t help.

He made a total of eight substitute appearances without getting any goals or assists, before returning to his homeland and joining Vasco de Gama. He’s still going at 39 years old, having joined Fluminense from Sao Paulo in 2019.

READ: A tribute to Nenê at PSG and his ‘right man wrong time’ act at West Ham

Manuel Lanzini

Undoubtedly the biggest success story from this group, Lanzini initially signed on loan from Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates for the final season at Upton Park, before signing permanently ahead of the move to London Stadium.

He absolutely lit it up for the Hammers at stages, so much so that he got into Argentina’s provisional squad for the 2018 World Cup.

However, while training with them, he suffered a Cruciate Ligament Rupture that left some of his international team-mates in tears.

Things haven’t been quite the same since, but the Jewel is still held in high regard, especially for his knack of scoring against London clubs.

Jonathan Calleri

When you first saw this article, Jonathan Calleri was probably one of the first names that came to mind, due to how his ineptitude left its scars on plenty of West Ham fans.

Everyone should have known what to expect when they watched him miss chance after chance against Astra Giurgiu, then follow that up by squandering a brilliant opportunity against AFC Bournemouth.

Even those who kept the faith after those couple of games soon lost it. His one goal for the club – scored against Middlesbrough – came thanks to a massive deflection, which sort of sums up his time at West Ham.

His loan from Deportivo Moldonado wasn’t renewed, leaving everyone involved with the club trying to forget this ever happened.

READ: The story of Jonathan Calleri: Mad rabonas & another West Ham disaster

Pablo Zabaleta

He wasn’t at the level reached at Manchester City, but Pablo Zabaleta was a class act during his three years at London Stadium. The Argentine connected with the fans well and put in his fair share of solid performances on the pitch, even captaining the side on occasions.

There were one or two shockers towards the end, such as the time Allan Saint-Maximin continually flew past him. However, he will be fondly remembered by the Hammers faithful, who got a glimpse into why City fans adore him so much.

Fabian Balbuena

When Balbuena signed from Corinthians in 2018, he was a bit of an unknown quantity to the majority of West Ham fans. He will now likely be respected by a lot of them – even if there have been points where his performances have dropped off, which usually saw him lose his place in the team.

Despite that, he has been a solid signing, with Sky Sports reporting that the Paraguayan cost £6.5million. He may not be a world-beater, but he’s definitely among the better South American signings Gold and Sullivan have made.

Felipe Anderson

The man who was the inspiration for this list, Anderson joined West Ham for a club-record £36milion in 2018, bringing the promise of Samba style and flair. It looked like the combination of fun and efficiency is what London Stadium would be seeing from him after he got 10 goals and five assists in his first campaign.

That turned out to be giving false hope, though, as there have been far too many games where he has been stuck in the background. His goal against Bournemouth last season was a delight for the eyes, but there has been more mediocrity than magic in the end.

Carlos Sanchez

This list ends with an absolute shocker from Manuel Pellegrini and Mario Husillos. Carlos Sanchez was brought in fresh from getting sent off just three minutes into the 2018 World Cup.

Things didn’t go much better for him in claret and blue, as his most noteworthy moment was the mistake that allowed Wolverhampton Wanderers to score a 93rd-minute winner.

He did have a lack of fortune as well, requiring knee surgery due to an injury picked up just 10 minutes into an 8-0 Carabao Cup win over Macclesfield Town. However, even without that, his time at West Ham was one to forget.

By Danny Lewis

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