West Ham forward will now play alongside Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal - why?

Chile Flag

West Ham United forward Mauro Zarate has switched his international allegiance in order to play for Chile.

West Ham United's impressive start to the season is largely down to the backing manager Sam Allardyce received this summer.

Under pressure during the summer, 'Big Sam' was tipped for the Upton Park exit before the West Ham board handed him funds to strengthen the squad ahead of the new season.

One of those new signings, Mauro Zarate, used to play for Birmingham and has scored one goal for the Hammers upon his return to the Premier League - yet today, he's in the headlines for off-field matters.

The 27-year-old made five appearances for the Argentina Under-20 side in 2007, and was tipped for big things in South America having broken into the Velez Sarsfield side.

Yet after moves to Al-Sadd, Lazio, Inter Milan and Velez again, it was becoming clearer and clearer that Zarate wouldn't be living up to that big billing as a teenager, though he's obviously a talented forward in his own right.

That meant that he wouldn't be playing for Argentina - especially with the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Lavezzi ahead of him in the pecking order.

New Argentina boss Gerardo Martino has left Zarate out of his squads again, and that has led to the West Ham striker changing his international allegiance.

Zarate's father Sergio was a footballer for Chile, and his nationality enables Zarate to play for Argentina's neighbours - a decision that he had so far refused to make until today, where he pledged his international allegiance to Chile.

That means that Zarate can now feature for Jorge Sampaoli's side in the 2015 Copa America tournament in Chile, and he will join forces with familiar faces such as QPR duo Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas, Juventus star and Manchester United target Arturo Vidal and Arsenal striking sensation Alexis Sanchez.

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