Thursday, 7 June 2007

Stalling For Time

The Independent have picked up on the Yossi Benayoun 'contract controversy' that reared its head yesterday. Jason Burt believes the player is now actively stalling on the signing of the paperwork in the hope that Liverpool are about to make an offer for him. The article claims Benayoun has told friends that he expects Rafael Benitez to make a move for him by the end of this week, although it is unlikely West Ham would be interested in selling. Benayoun was linked to Liverpool and Arsenal last summer but decided to stay at West Ham and was offered a new contract, which he did not sign. At the end of this season he again sought talks with the club's directors and threatened to submit a transfer request but, instead, was offered a deal that more than doubled his pay to £50,000 a week. So far the new contract has not been signed with sources at West Ham believing that Benayoun is hoping to give himself more leverage in any further negotiations.

The same paper claims Reading want to bring Hayden Mullins "home" and are ready to launch a bid for the West Ham midfielder. The 28-year-old's future at Upton Park looks increasingly bleak as Alan Curbishley plans an overhaul of his squad, having been promised a multi-million pound budget by the club's Icelandic owners. Mullins was born in Reading and the former West Ham manager Alan Pardew tried to take him to the Madejski Stadium from Crystal Palace when he was in charge. Mullins was virtually an ever-present for West Ham after Pardew - now with relegated Charlton - made him his first Upton Park signing.

According to a story in the Mail, Nigel Reo-Coker is still waiting to hear whether he will be given permission to speak to Aston Villa about a £7million move from West Ham. The club are still considering this week's initial bid from Villa for Reo-Coker, who cost them £500,000 from Wimbledon in January 2004. "A bid has been made and it's up to the businessmen to come to some sort of arrangement," Reo-Coker said on Sky Sports News. "If I'm given permission to go and speak, I'm given permission. But I've no control." The 23-year-old midfielder insists handing in a transfer request was a difficult decision. "It's not something that any player will do lightly," he said. "It's a very difficult decision. I've handed in a transfer request because I don't believe my future is at West Ham." Whether or not the Villa bid is accepted, it appears only a matter of time before Reo-Coker leaves Upton Park. At today's press conference, Alan Curbishley said "Reo-Coker is away with the [England] Under-21s at the moment with two of our other boys. I have heard nothing in respect of any activity. There are lots of rumours about our club at the moment. We can't go around answering it all. It has been indicated but, as of now, he is still a West Ham player."

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