DESPITE being without a manager West Ham have completed the signing of Uruguayan defender Walter Lopez.

In a clear indication of the influence of technical director Gianluca Nani has at Upton Park the Hammers have snapped up the free-agent on a one-year deal, following his release by River Plate.

It is also thought the Italian will now have a major say in, who will take over from departed manager Alan Curbishley, having been allowed by the Hammers board to complete the signing of the 22-year-old left-back.

Speaking of the signing caretaker manager Kevin Keen told the club’s official website: "Walter is a very attacking full-back who can get forward. Like David Di Michele, he is another West Ham-type player who will hopefully show everyone at the club what he can do."

Lopez, who has been capped three times by his country, was also clearly happy to have still been able to complete his move to Upton Park.

He said: "I am really happy to be here and I hope to have a good career. Upton Park is a beautiful stadium and it will be great to play for West Ham. I am looking forward to it. It is a great club and there are some great players at the club. I know about many of them like Lucas Neill and Craig Bellamy. Everyone here has made me feel very welcome.

"I watch the Premier League all the time on TV. It is the number one league in the world, the best and it is great to be a part of it. I am very happy that I am here and I get to play for West Ham. The fans are very passionate and I hope to show them what I can do."