Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A Timely Statement

I started something, I forced you to a zone
And you were clearly never meant to go
Typical me, typical me, typical me
I started something... and now I'm not too sure
Rather predictably, the furore over the Daily Mail's recent transfer speculation has
snowballed into other areas of the press. Jason Burt, writing in today's Independent, reiterates the club will have to pay as much as £20million if they are to land Andrew Johnson this summer. He says that although Everton have made it clear that the striker is not for sale - and the manager David Moyes remains vociferous in his opposition to any deal taking place - West Ham are considering an offer that would be hard to refuse. The article suggests that Johnson's wife is unsettled on Merseyside and is keen to move back to London. West Ham have been interested in Johnson, 26, for some time with Alan Pardew having attempted to sign him from Crystal Palace before the arrival of Dean Ashton. Burt believes the intention is to pair the two in a new-look strike-force, on the understanding that Carlos Tevez will almost certainly leave for a club in Spain this summer. He also repeats Ashton's story from yesterday that Alan Curbishley has £70million at his disposal, breaking it down as £45million coming from television revenue and a further £25million expected to be generated from the sale of players.

Neal Ashton, having laid the groundwork for the Johnson rumour, has now moved on to yet another revelatory story. In the Daily Mail he states Alan Curbishley faces a massive fight to hang on to Yossi Benayoun after it emerged that the West Ham midfielder has turned down a five-year contract at Upton Park worth £50,000 a week. He insists the Israeli is a firm favourite at the club but has declined the chance to treble his £18,000-a-week wages because he wants to play for one of the top four sides in the Premiership. While the article is correct that the contract extension Benayoun agreed terms on last month remains unsigned, the implication is very misleading. The player's agent, Ronen Katzav, explained: "He has not rejected the contract. He still plans to sign the contract, but there has been such much happening with his new baby and him being on international duty. Obviously in football you never know, and whilst it is unsigned there is always a chance of something else. But the deal is agreed and we intend to sign it."

As one agent talks his client into the club, another talks his player out. Nigel Reo-Coker's representative Tony Finnigan told Sky Sports today that the player has his heart set on a move to Aston Villa. "He will be signing for Villa once that bid is accepted," he said. "Nigel is over the moon to be linked with Martin O'Neill and a club of that calibre and size. I'm just happy a bid has been put in by a massive club." That is, of course, an amusing piece of spin/deception from a man who promised his client a move to a team in the Champions League... there was a crap agent called Tony Finnigan, he stroked the whiskers on his chinnigan.

Elsewhere, Eggert Magnusson has released a timely official statement pleading for patience in the face of a deluge of stories linking the club to new signings. "This is an important time for the Club," he said today. "The Board are working very hard with Alan Curbishley to identify what we need to do to strengthen our squad for next season. We are involved in negotiations but it would not be appropriate to comment on those discussions until they are finalised one way or another. Of course, throughout this period there will be a great deal of media speculation about players, transfer fees and even salary levels, much of which will not reflect reality. Wherever there is progress to report and real decisions made we will announce that via our official website. In the meantime I believe that our supporters know that we are seeking to take the Club on to the next level as we prepare for next season and will always act in the best interests of West Ham in the decisions we take." On the specific issue regarding discussions between West Ham and Everton, Mr Magnusson added: "I've had a very positive discussion with my good friend Bill Kenwright, the Everton Chairman, and can confirm that West Ham have not and are not bidding for any Everton player at this time."

Finally, the club has been linked with a move for another Scandinavian starlet in the shape of Norwegian striker Tarik Elyounoussi. Chelsea and other top clubs have been monitoring the Under-21 international but Alan Curbishley is thought to be in pole position to sign him. The West Ham manager will have to pay about £3million for the 19-year-old who turned down trials at Chelsea and Portsmouth last season.

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