Japan`s Maeda set for West Ham switch

London: Japan striker Ryoichi Maeda is poised to join to England`s West Ham United after flying to London to train with the Championship (second division) club, local media reported Friday.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, whose team are chasing promotion to the Premier League, has promised the Jubilo Iwata forward an answer by the start of next week.

"He`s a player with a proven track record," Allardyce was quoted as saying in Japan`s Nikkan Sports as he looks to boost his attacking options in the January transfer window.

"I have to decide if he can play a part in the team quickly."

The 30-year-old Maeda, who scored 14 goals in 28 J-League appearances last season, has been at Jubilo since the beginning of his career.

He was the first player to win the J.League`s Golden Boot award in consecutive years in 2009 and 2010, and last year helped Japan win a record fourth Asian Cup in Qatar.

West Ham are believed to have offered Maeda a two-year contract worth $1.9 million (1.2 million pounds) a year, more than double his current wages, subject to a medical and the procurement of a work visa.

"It might be a bit late to be taking on the challenge of playing abroad," Maeda said. "But I hope to grow into a better player in Europe and bring that to the national team.

"At my age, this is likely my last chance to play overseas and I want to everything possible to make it happen."

West Ham lie second in the Championship on goal difference behind Southampton, who are close to completing the signing of Maeda`s Japan team mate Tadanari Lee.

Japan midfielder Yuki Abe also plays in the same league for Leicester City.

Bureau Report