West Ham United have seen a loan with option to buy offer for Santos wonderkid Marcos Leonardo rejected, 90min understands.
The Hammers already completed a deal worth £15m for Aston Villa striker Danny Ings last Friday, strengthening the options available to David Moyes as the club looks to pull away from the relegation zone.
But West Ham have spent a significant amount of time scouting young talents in South America and sources have confirmed to 90min that a bid was previously lodged for 19-year-old Leonardo – a young forward well known to players of Football Manager.
The bid is understood to have been a loan deal with an option to buy, but Santos were not prepared to sanction the exit of a player many feel is destined for the very top of the game.
Leonardo, who has previously cited Cristiano Ronaldo as his idol, has been tentatively linked with Liverpool in the past, and scored 21 goals in 57 appearances for Santos during a breakthrough 2022.
In addition to Leonardo, West Ham’s scouting mission has also seen the club monitor 17-year-old Athletico Paranaense sensation Vitor Roque, though he is a player courting a significant amount of interest, and central midfielder Thiago Maia.
Luizao has already joined West Ham from Sao Paulo on a three-and-a-half-year contract, although he is not expected to challenge for a first-team place this season.
The arrival of Danny Ings was seen as a huge shot in the arm for West Ham, who have struggled to score goals all season long.
But the 30-year-old’s debut as a substitute against Everton was spoiled by a late knock to his knee, and sources have confirmed to 90min that he will likely be sidelined for a few weeks.
As if Ings’ injury wasn’t bad enough, there are ongoing concerns over the fitness of Gianluca Scamacca. The Italian, a £35.5m arrival from Sassuolo in the summer, has been managing a knee injury of his own and the extent of the problem has not been made public.
Some sources have told 90min that Scamacca could return to action when West Ham take on Chelsea in the Premier League, but there are also genuine concerns that the 24-year-old could be sidelined for anywhere between six and ten weeks – a situation that suggests the issue is far from straightforward.
Kurt Zouma is another player to have emerged from West Ham’s game with Everton with a knock, and he could also be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks.
West Ham moving for Marcos Leonardo is a sign that the club’s recruitment team are looking to bring in exciting young players. The 19-year-old is widely regarded as one the best young talents playing in Brazil right now – high praise with the likes of Roque, Endrick and others strutting their stuff. The South American market is a huge lure for clubs now – we’ve seen plenty of young Brazilian and Argentine players move to the Premier League – so don’t be too surprised if West Ham and others look to get Leonardo out of Santos this summer.
In terms of what West Ham do now, they may continue to pursue a move for Lorient’s Terem Moffi, but the inclination from sources is that he would prefer to remain in Ligue 1 and potentially join Nice. They have exciting plans to develop into one of the country’s top teams – financed by prospective Man Utd buyer Sir Jim Ratcliffe – and Moffi knows that competition for places for West Ham would be fierce.
One thing that can almost certainly be ruled out is a rumoured exit for Michail Antonio. With Ings and Scamacca injured, David Moyes needs him now more than ever, and he offered a timely reminder of what he can do by Jarrod Bowen’s second goal against Everton.
Listen to more about West Ham’s interest in Marcos Leonardo on the Talking Transfers podcast. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!