Monday, 29 December 2008

Circling The Wagons

Manchester City have begun the process of flexing their financial muscle with a combined bid of £15 million for Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker, though Gianfranco Zola remains confident he will be able to hold on to both players, reports Steve Wilson in this morning's Telegraph. The initial approach was dismissed out of hand by United who, despite their widely understood financial problems, have said to have given City no encouragement to return with a higher bid.

The move comes just a week after Tottenham had a reported £6 million offer for Bellamy similarly rebuffed. On that occasion Scott Duxbury exclusively told The Independent that the Welsh international was not for sale. It was also confirmed that if an offer of £15 million was made for the 29-year-old, who has scored three times in his last three matches after a barren spell, then it would be put to Gianfranco Zola.

The West Ham board hope the stance shows the supporters there is an ambition to withstand pressure to sell, reports the Mail. Nevertheless, it will not dissuade Mark Hughes from trying again with an inflated offer as the City manager sets about restructuring his squad with the resources handed to him by the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners.

United moved to 10th in the Premier League after a 2-1 victory over Stoke City at the weekend, and will fight hard to hold on to their better players, even though they are bracing themselves for interest from a raft of clubs looking to exploit the problems of the club’s Icelandic owners. The article states that City’s interest in Bellamy, who played under Hughes at Blackburn and for Wales, is well known. However, Parker has emerged as a surprise target for the Manchester club who have been linked with a host of big-name international midfield players. Hughes sees Parker as better value than Villarreal’s 32-year-old holding midfielder Marcos Senna, and his Premier League experience would be important in combining City’s short-term need to avoid a relegation fight as well as building for a future with higher aspirations.

The Independent confirms an offer for Bellamy and Parker was made but insists that neither player is for sale. Jason Burt reports the board have also moved to hold talks with Matthew Upson's representatives to spell out their intention to hold on to the England international who is also attracting intense interest with the transfer window set to open. Upson, who was bought from Birmingham City in January 2007 for an initial £6 million, is in demand having impressed for club as well as country after cementing his place in Fabio Capello's England squad and overcoming his own history of injury problems. Newcastle United are the latest believed to have made an initial inquiry of around £8 million. While Manchester City are monitoring the situation Spurs have denied interest in the former Arsenal player although his old club might just be in the hunt, but not at the price likely to convince United to sell.

While clubs assume that West Ham are in a position where they need to sell their most valuable assets, and although a list of potential departures has been drawn up, from one of the bigger squads in the league, it does not include the likes of Parker, Bellamy, Upson, Robert Green, Valon Behrami or any other first-team regular. For the minute at least Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson remains adamant that the club are self-sustaining and can cover all costs. However, the board admit that money will only be made available to Zola in January through the departure of fringe players, or those who have disappointed such as Luis Boa Morte, Julien Faubert or Jonathan Spector.

Faubert has admitted he would be happy to receive offers from either Lyon or Paris Saint Germain during the forthcoming January transfer window. The 25-year-old has spoken about the possibility of returning to France in January, insisting he fully intends to play more regularly in 2009 in order to revive his international status. Faubert told L’Equipe: "I need to play, I’m 25. Even if I’m very good here, I don’t rule out the possibility of coming back to France. Clubs such as Lyon or PSG are very attractive. We will see in January."

Calum Davenport is another such player who looks likely to leave Upton Park during the transfer window. The lanky defender almost joined Watford last season before a serious neck injury ended his season prematurely. He returned to fitness and had played impressively in the club's last three Premier League matches following an injury to James Collins but is reported to have reacted badly to being harshly left out of the win over Stoke yesterday. The former Tottenham player, one of the club's bigger wage earners, joins the list of expendable players Zola could be tempted to sell next month to generate funds. The Sun think Gary Megson is ready to offer Davenport an escape route from West Ham with a £1.5million swoop. The Bolton boss will make his move now the defender has been told he can leave by Gianfranco Zola.

In a further show of solidarity, Robert Green insists he has the word of chief executive Scott Duxbury that no stars will be auctioned off in a January fire sale. "We've been assured as senior players that there won't be a fire sale from the chief executive," said the West Ham keeper. "But it's something which is completely out of our control at the moment. There's not much I can do about it. All I can do is keep playing well for West Ham. I want to play for West Ham and all the lads want to play for West Ham. There are things that are beyond our control and there are things that go on that are not down to us as players."

Several squad players are expected to leave in the coming weeks but Green, who is currently being eyed by several top-flight clubs, insists he is happy to stay in east London - despite the deepening financial problems surrounding the club. He said: "I'm happy playing for West Ham in the most exciting league in the world. What more motivation do you need? You don't want to go out and have a bad game and I love playing for West Ham. You look at the team and everyone who gets out there wants to play well for West Ham. There aren't many unhappy faces, if any, in the camp. The last two wins have been massive and really changed the face of our season. People were dreading what Christmas might bring but we're now just two points off Hull, who have supposedly had a magnificent start to the season. We're looking at ending the year in 10th and starting the New Year on a high. We can now look forward to a cup game following two big wins."

On the gossip front, some European media sources have named United among four clubs said to be showing an interest in Borussia Dortmund right winger Jakub Blaszczykowski. The other parties are believed to be Ajax Amsterdam, Celtic and Villarreal. Despite the attention, the 23 year old Poland international is thought more likely to extend his stay in the Bundesliga club than opt for a move aboard. "It is very important for Borussia that Blaszczykowski signs a new contract as soon as possible," said Sascha Fligge, newspaper journalist for Ruhr Nachrichten.

Other unsubstantiated stories have the Irons watching Lazio striker Makinwa, also a reported target for Charlton and Chievo. Also on the radar is Ipswich midfielder Velice Sumulikoski. The 27 year old Macedonia midfielder is also said to be targeted by Fulham, Middlesbrough and Wigan.


Joe J said...


is it possible to change my link for C'Mon Yu Irons! to the new site

thanx :)

Trilby said...

No problem, I've just sorted it.


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