Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Lucas Knee-Knacked

Derby County's highly-rated midfielder Giles Barnes is again a target for West Ham according to several newspaper reports this morning. The Independent claim the club have already failed with one bid of £2million and the collapse of the Kieron Dyer transfer has now strengthened West Ham's resolve to capture the versatile midfielder. The player, who has four years left on his deal, would, in the current market, be valued by his club at around £4million-£5milliion. The article states West Ham have proposed a deal that would involve cash plus a player but that would depend on the individuals in question, as Derby are still in the hunt for a striker. David Hytner, writing in The Guardian, insists the improved offer is unrelated to the pursuit of Dyer and that Barnes impressed for Derby as they won promotion to the Premier League last season. He declared his intention to stay in the Midlands for at least another season before they beat West Bromwich Albion in the play-off final last May. One option open to a buying club would be to sign the player and then loan him back to Derby in order for him to play regularly in the Premier League.

The Mail think West Ham will today step up their interest in Nicky Shorey despite the England full back's insistence that he is happy to stay at Reading. The left back, who forced his way into the England senior squad at the end of last season, said earlier this week that he remained fully committed to Reading, although he stopped short of completing a new deal. He said: "It would be wrong to start talking about moving on and going to a big club. I'm just keeping my options open. Nothing is set in stone." Reading manager Steve Coppell has said he is resigned to the fact that Shorey, who began his career at Leyton Orient, will not sign a new deal. He has just two years left on his current contract and the likelihood is that Reading will be forced to cash in now, should they receive a decent offer of around £5million.

In the same article, there is speculation that Lucas Neill could miss at least a month of the new season after damaging a medial knee ligament in training on Monday. West Ham are already without French midfield player Julien Faubert until Christmas with an achilles tendon injury while Scott Parker is also likely to miss the opening match of the Premiership season against Manchester City with a knee injury. The news concerning Neill follows reports from yesterday that the player was seen leaving the West Ham training ground with his leg in a brace.

Elsewhere, Martin Samuel states Premier League rules will be tightened to prevent a repeat of the Carlos Tévez fiasco. Additional regulations are expected to be passed at a Premier League board meeting next week that will have a direct impact on transfers, player registration, loan deals and notorious gentleman’s agreements. Richard Scudamore, the governing body’s chief executive, revealed: "On the back of the Carlos Tévez situation, we have changed the rules so that all documentation relating to player registration and employment has to be submitted in advance of signing the player. Among West Ham United’s defences was that they believed the third-party agreement did not have anything to do with the player’s registration and that is why it was not shown to the Premier League. Our policy now is: let us be the judge."

He added: "In our rulebook we have also directly linked player registration with rules U18 and U6, which govern third-party interference and dual ownership between clubs. We have said we will look at all registrations with particular reference to those rules. Then there will be changes in the rules regarding loans. We can see that under the old rules a club could technically have 19 goalkeepers out on loan, which would not be healthy [Manches-ter United had two goalkeepers, Tim Howard and Ben Foster, loaned to Everton and Watford respectively last season, a guarantee that the club would play four of their 38 matches against second-choice goalkeepers]. It would be like having a plant in the camp, so we are proposing that no more than one goalkeeper can be on loan from one club. When any loan deal becomes permanent, the conditions of the loan will apply to the end of the season. That wipes out the need for gentleman’s agreements [Sheffield United sold Steve Kabba to Watford but admitted publicly that a private arrangement prevented him appearing against his former club]. Also, by linking rule U6 so strongly to registration, we are saying that all agreements have to be declared."

Finally, Scudamore states that he is not worried by the possibility of a huge compensation claim from Sheffield United. A figure of £50 million has been mentioned in certain quarters. "The High Court and the Court of Arbitration have looked at it and found no legal reason why Sheffield United should be in the Premier League," he said. "They could only be entitled to the money if they were entitled to be in the league and nobody has supported that argument."

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