West Ham United are delighted to announce the signing of Chile forward Luis Jimenez from Serie A champions Internazionale on a season-long loan with a view to a possible permanent transfer.
With fierce competition for Jimenez's services at home and abroad, West Ham moved quickly to seal the deal with the player, who will have a medical when he arrives in England next month, joining officially from 1 July. The 25-year-old is nicknamed 'El Mago' - The Wizard - for his playmaking abilities and is a former team-mate of Valon Behrami at SS Lazio.
Speaking to whufc.com, Jimenez said: "I am very happy, very excited and very determined to show what I can do. I am a player who loves to play football, to be in a team that keeps the ball, to create opportunities and also score goals. I can't promise anything but I am going to do everything possible to do a good job for the club.
"I know West Ham are a fantastic club who have had a lot of great players. I had options to join other clubs but I watched West Ham's last game of the season and I liked it a lot. I preferred this option because I really admire the way they try to play. Gianfranco Zola was one of the things that drew me to West Ham - I can identify with the type of football he wants to play."
A past Chile player of the year - winning in 2006 ahead of compatriot Matias Fernandez, voted South American's top player that same season - Jimenez has not played for his country since March 2008 in order to focus fully on his club career.
As such, he did not immediately meet Football Association work permit rules but CEO Scott Duxbury led a successful Hammers delegation including Gianfranco Zola to the FA earlier this month to ensure Jimenez was free to play - with Inter coach Jose Mourinho lending his support. With vast competition in attacking positions at Inter, the Italian champions for the past four seasons agreed to his move to London.
Duxbury then flew to Milan to begin the negotiations last week alongside technical director Gianluca Nani before the deal was finalised on Tuesday afternoon. The CEO said: "I am pleased we have been able to secure Luis's services. Many clubs were after him so we have had to work quickly. We were determined to get the deal done as Gianfranco sees him as a player that can add much to our attack next season."
Jimenez who first came to attention at Paolo Di Canio's former club Ternana in Serie B and has also featured for ACF Fiorentina, is considered one of the brightest talents in South America. After starting his career at Club Deportivo Palestino in his homeland, the Santiago-born player moved to Italy at the age of 18, making 88 league appearances for Ternana between 2002 and 2007, scoring 25 goals.
He moved to ACF Fiorentina for the second half of the 2005/06 season, scoring three goals in 19 Serie A appearances. That season also saw him voted as his country's finest and he was soon off to Lazio in January 2007. The South American netted two goals in 16 loan appearances for the Biancocelesti.
He joined Inter on loan at the start of the 2007/08 season and enjoyed a successful first campaign at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, scoring three goals in 15 Serie A appearances and also netting in the 3-0 UEFA Champions League victory over Fenerbahce in November 2007.
The Nerazzurri made Jimenez's move to Milan permanent in the summer of 2008, with Inter claiming the title in his first campaign. With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dejan Stankovic, Mario Balotelli and Mancini already at Mourinho's disposal and Diego Milito arriving, Inter are going for a fifth straight success in 2009/10.
At international level, Jimenez made his full debut for Chile against Peru on 28 April 2004, going on to be named in his country's squad for the 2004 Copa America in Peru. To date, he has scored twice in 20 matches.
He went on to appear in five of his country's qualifying matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, scoring in the 2-1 home win over Venezuela, and became national team captain at the age of 22. He has appeared in two 2010 qualifiers so far. Marcelo Bielsa's side are riding high in second in the South American qualifying standings, a point behind leaders Brazil. The top five teams qualify automatically for next summer's finals in South Africa.