West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini will move for Antonio Valencia — if Pablo Zabaleta decides this season will be his last.
The Hammers want Zabaleta to stay but the 34-year-old full-back has yet to announce if he plans to play on next term.
There is talk he will be offered a role behind the scenes at Manchester City, where he is a cult figure after nearly a decade there, if he retires.
Pellegrini is eyeing possible replacements if the Argentine does call it a day — and Manchester United misfit Valencia tops his list.
Valencia has been at Old Trafford for ten years but his contract ends this summer and there are no plans to discuss a new deal.
The Ecuador defender is a year younger than Zabaleta and although Pellegrini has a tight budget, a free transfer would bring his £100,000-a-week wages within range.
Valencia has struggled to live up to expectations this season, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for him at the start of the month.
Speaking about his injury, the interim boss said: “Well hopefully he’ll recover.
“Because he’s training hard, really hard. Then he got a setback, so hopefully in a couple of weeks he’ll be back with us.
“He’s been a fantastic servant for the club, he’s the captain for a reason.”