Tuesday, 17 July 2007

One Out, One In?

Marlon Harewood has joined Aston Villa from West Ham for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £3.5million. The striker has signed a three-year contract and follows his former Upton Park team-mate Nigel Reo-Coker to Villa. The club offically confirmed the striker's departure this afternoon. Harewood joined the Hammers from Nottingham Forest in November 2003 for a fee of £500,000 and made an instant impression with two goals on his debut against Wigan. He scored 14 times in his first campaign at Upton Park, and was top scorer the following year with 23 goals, helping the club win promotion to the Premiership via the play-offs. He scored again 14 goals in the top flight in the 2005/06 season, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa, but suffered a miserable season last year. After the arrival of Alan Curbishley as West Ham manager, Harewood struggled to gain a first-team place and requested a move after his team's dramatic relegation escape, much of which he had watched from the sidelines. He went on to make a total of 180 league and cup appearances for the Club, scoring 56 goals.

The 27-year-old has been courted by several other clubs this summer and had originally been expected to sign for Wigan. "I'm delighted that he's accepted the invitation to come and join us," said the Villa manager Martin O'Neill. "I know there were other teams wanting to take him, but he's prepared to come here and challenge to try and work his way into the first team. He's a strong lad, very athletic and if he can recapture the form he showed in the two seasons before last, he will definitely be a big asset." O'Neill has warned the striker he will not be an automatic selection at Villa. "He's coming to join a squad. We've let some players go during the summer and we're now rebuilding again," he said. "Marlon's prepared to come in here and battle for his place and that's what we want at this football club. He's a confident lad."

Harewood agreed with O'Neill's assessment that he must strive to recapture the form of two seasons ago. "I'm delighted to join Villa and I think I've come at a really exciting time for the club," he told the club's website. "The manager is aiming high next season and it's great to be part of his plans. I want to recapture the form I showed a couple of seasons ago, when West Ham got into the cup final and we did so well in the league. There's a lot of quality here at Villa. I watched the lads train this morning and I'd forgotten just how much quality there was already here. My mate Nigel Reo-Coker has already signed and I know all about his qualities, so I'm just really pleased to be on board. Villa finished last season strongly and I know the aim is to get into Europe this time around. Hopefully I can play my part in that."

On the day that one striker departs, West Ham have again been linked with a move for Jermain Defoe. A story in the Mail says the club have already failed with a £11million offer for our former player but will now make a renewed bid armed with the extra funds from Harewood's sale. The sticking point, states the article, is that Defoe is reluctant to return to Upton Park where he has been the target of vociferous abuse from the boo boys since switching to Spurs. The England international has also interested Manchester City, Aston Villa and Portsmouth but has so far pledged to fight for his place at White Hart Lane. Defoe has two years left on his contract and may wait until the turn of the year to see how Martin Jol's rotation system pans out before deciding whether to begin talks about a new deal or seek regular first-team football elsewhere.

1 comment:

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