WEST HAM UNITED are ready to step into the breach if Newcastle United are unable to agree a permanent deal for Salomon Rondon this summer.

The Hammers are preparing for a major attacking overhaul once the transfer window reopens, and have identified Rondon as a leading potential target amid doubts over Newcastle’s desire to turn the striker’s current loan deal into a permanent transfer.

Rafael Benitez is keen to sign Rondon permanently, with the Venezuelan having established himself as Newcastle’s clear first-choice striker thanks to a tally of ten goals in all competitions this season.

However, Benitez is yet to make a decision over his own future beyond the end of the current campaign, and the prospects of Rondon joining Newcastle permanently would recede significantly if there was a managerial change at St James’ Park.

Even if Benitez signs a new deal, he faces a major battle to persuade Mike Ashley to shell out the funds that would be needed to sign Rondon on a long-term deal.

Last summer, Ashley refused to pay the £16m fee that would have triggered an automatic release clause in the striker’s contract at West Brom, and with the Baggies expected to demand a similar price this summer, it remains to be seen whether he is willing to shift his position.

Ashley is notoriously reluctant to offer long-term deals to players approaching their 30s, and Rondon turned 29 last September. He is likely to request at least a three-year deal if he leaves the Hawthorns permanently, and it is hard to see Ashley meeting his demands.

The West Ham board would be much more willing to offer a long-term deal, having previously recruited a number of players in a similar age bracket.

Manuel Pellegrini has been promised significant funds to strengthen his squad this summer, and the Hammers boss will make an attacking overhaul a key priority.

Andy Carroll is set to leave the London Stadium, and Lucas Perez could also be sold after suffering a succession of injury issues.

Given that Javier Hernandez will turn 31 in June, Pellegrini will be keen to sign at least one proven striker, and Rondon’s record over the last couple of seasons makes him an attractive option, with West Brom willing to sell.

Rondon will attempt to tie up his future at an early stage of the summer, and while he would he prefer to remain on Tyneside after enjoying his time in the North-East, he is aware of the issues that could prevent him joining the Magpies permanently.

He has returned to training with his Newcastle team-mates after a successful international break that saw him score the opening goal in Venezuela’s landmark 3-1 win over Argentina.

Lionel Messi was part of the Argentinian side that lined up in Madrid, but Rondon’s goal helped Venezuela claim a surprise win.

“Messi came back to the national team for that game,” said Rondon. “People made a lot about Messi playing, but we played really well and won the game. It’s only my opinion, but Messi is the best player in the world and in history, but it was a great performance from my national team.”

Rondon will now turn his attention back to the Premier League, with Newcastle returning to action at Arsenal on Monday night.

“We know that Arsenal are a good team,” he said. “We are doing really well and just have to carry on with our performances.

“They are strong and have quality players, but we just have to keep playing the way we have been.

“We still have to go step by step in the table. Arsenal is a difficult game.

“Just trying to help the team is the main point for me. I try to hold the ball, play with my team-mates, then after that score more goals.”