'He wants Europe' - Liverpool and West Ham must move for Colombian gem

River Plate president admitted that reported West Ham United and Liverpool target Eder Alvarez Balanta has asked to leave for Europe.

Last month, reports emerged claiming West Ham and Liverpool to be the frontrunners for River Plate centre-back Eder Alvarez Balanta’s signature.

At the time the Colombian was in Brazil representing his country at the World Cup and though he made just a single appearance for the Cafeteros, is widely considered a top defensive prospect.

Since the Premier League pair were linked with the 21-year-old, however, further developments have been scarce - with Balanta returning home after Colombia’s quarter-finals elimination by Brazil.

But now that his international commitments for the summer have come to an end, it’s time for interested suitors to act. And West Ham and Liverpool have both received a positive bit of news suggesting Balanta is there for the taking.

River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio told Argentine radio programme America & Closs: “Balanta has asked [me] if he can go to Europe and play.”

D’Onofrio’s second in command, vice-president Matias Patanian, previously indicated that an offer of £6 million would be sufficient to get River to the negotiating table.

And with Balanta angling to make the jump to Europe, the conditions are ideal for West Ham and Liverpool to get talks under way imminently.

At £6 million Balanta is a potential steal given his massive upside as an athletic, all action centre-back with pace and strength in abundance, not to mention considerable aerial ability.

Liverpool in particular are in need of a centre-back after last season’s defensive woes, with the Colombian a far cheaper alternative to an increasingly expensive Dejan Lovren.

On the other hand, West Ham have already picked up Cheikhou Kouyate - who could play in midfield - to complement Winston Reid, James Tomkins and James Collins, so are well stocked in central defence. But Reid’s contract expires next summer and he’s been linked with a move away, meaning a replacement might be needed.

It’s not everyday that a top young talent is so readily available, and Liverpool and West Ham would do well to pick up on River Plate’s cues and make a run at signing the highly-rated Balanta.

A sum of £6 million is quite a reasonable one to pay for a player that looks to have a bright future and has already made his intentions clear about wanting to take his career to the next level.

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