WEST HAM UNITED are leading the battle to secure the services of Salomon Rondon and are looking to have things tied up before managerless Newcastle United decide to increase an earlier offer.

The Magpies’ search for a manager is preventing progress being made on the transfer front, with Rafa Benitez’s exit leaving managing director Lee Charnley and owner Mike Ashley left to concentrate on other areas.

Mexican club Cruz Azul are the latest overseas team to have shown an interest in the Venezuelan, and there are numerous other clubs known to be keen.

But West Ham, who are already understood to have had a £10m offer tabled for the striker, are ready to press ahead in a bid to get things tied up after hearing Rondon would prefer to stay in the Premier League.

The 29-year-old outlined towards the end of last season how he would have preferred to stay at Newcastle if Benitez could have persuaded the St James’ Park boardroom to have struck a deal with West Bromwich Albion.

Following the end of his loan from the Hawthorns, though, West Brom are still looking for the £16.5m offer that would trigger a release clause in his contract and they feel Newcastle are now unlikely to return with a bid following Benitez’s departure.

Sources away from Tyneside suggest that Newcastle made an offer amounting to less than the £10m which West Ham have said they will pay. The Baggies, though, are still holding out for the release clause fee, and Newcastle are still unwilling to pay that.

The uncertainty surrounding the manager’s position at Newcastle – aside from the takeover talk which further clouds the situation – is delaying the drive to add to the squad, with Ashley willing to provide around £50m for transfers as things stand.

Ashley is drawing up a list of serious contenders for the job with former Arsenal midfielders Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta two of those being heavily mentioned, while Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is another.

But former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has distanced himself from claims he is under consideration by indicating he is not ready to return to management yet.

Wenger , 69, was asked if he would consider it 13 months after ending his long association with Arsenal. He has been working in the media since then.

He said: “Not in the near future, no. I still am not ready to go back. I thought ‘yes’ (about a return to the game) but I don’t think at the moment I will come back.”

Wenger's fellow Frenchman Laurent Blanc is known to be keen on the job.