Sunday, 21 December 2008

Limp And Wilted Transfer Rumours

Here is the latest selection of transfer gossip and speculation; freshly seasoned and lightly tossed for your delectation but probably already limp and wilted by the time you hit the final paragraph...

Gianfranco Zola is certain his side's football will soon be rewarded, despite losing against Aston Villa on Saturday. Lucas Neill's own goal condemned the Hammers to a ninth defeat of the season, with the club just a point above the relegation places. Zola lamented the manner of Villa's winning goal while he praised his players for matching their opponents for much of the game.

"It's very hard," he said. "It's difficult to leave the pitch with nothing when you play like that. We had so many chances against a team fourth in the table. We are one place away from the relegation zone but that didn't show on the pitch. I'm upset and frustrated for my players because they deserve more. It won't carry on like this. That would be impossible. I'm not going to give up on this, we have to be strong and make our own luck. If we play like that it will not go on forever."

Elsewhere, it is claimed that Zola knew that he would have no cash to spend in the January transfer window when he took the West Ham job in September, according to the Icelandic owners of the club. Zola hinted last week he might quit if promises made to him on his arrival were not fulfilled. The club's owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has been hit by the global financial crisis and his chief advisor, West Ham vice-chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson, said: 'There is no money coming into the operation from the owner. This was crystal clear from the beginning. Zola was always happy with that arrangement.' The corollary of this, reports the Mail, is the likely exit of strikers Craig Bellamy and Dean Ashton to be replaced next month by Fiorentina's Gianpaolo Pazzini.

The same paper believes the club could also be forced to sell Matthew Upson as he is the only player we've had a firm enquiry for. The article sates that Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has asked about the £8million defender after concerns over the form of club captain Richard Dunne. Upson is not the only central defender City are looking at but with West Ham's precarious financial situation, Hughes knows he can get the player after difficulties in landing his main January targets. Ideally, West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola wants to keep Upson but West Ham will have to sell unless they get offers for other players. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp is also an admirer of Upson but with Stewart Downing and Robbie Keane also on his shopping list, Redknapp has to sell before he can enter the transfer market

Craig Bellamy, insists the News of the World, is destined for a £7million switch to Manchester City. The Star agrees but thinks the fee is more likely to be around £6million. Of course, if that turns out to be true, then it would have taken taken a spectacular kind of ineptitude to actually negotiate down the asking price when dealing with the newly minted richest club in the world. Especially, if Tottenham are also interested in the Wales striker, as is suggested by the Sunday People.

The People content themselves with a little cut and shut quote mangling to suggest Bellamy is critical of the foreign players at the club and how they have affected the mood of the dressing-room. Diego Tristan, Valon Behrami, David Di Michele and Herita Ilunga have signed since the arrival of sporting director Gianluca Nani in March Bellamy is quoted as saying: "They are nice lads but they don't speak English. We lost one or two Brits during the summer like Anton Ferdinand and Bobby Zamora, who were very vocal, and replaced them with players who are very quiet. It's difficult and took us back. The changing room was affected by this at the start."

In other news, the Mirror speculates that Claudio Ranieri is planning a double raid on the Premier League to bolster his squad for his return to Stamford Bridge. The Former Chelsea boss Ranieri heads to London for the first time since owner Roman Abramovich dismissed him when his Juventus face the Blues in the Champions League. The Tinkerman is desperate to inject some Premier League experience into his side and is planning to offer Harry Redknapp a cash-plus-player deal involving Vincenzo Iaquinta in a bid to land Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric. Joining Modric in Turin could be United's own Valon Behrami.

This is a rehash of the story that most recently surfaced Friday, which linked the Swiss midfielder to a £7 million switch to the Bianconeri. The 23-year-old wide man joined the club from Lazio this summer, but there were rumours earlier this month that a host of Italian sides were looking to bring him back to the peninsula, namely Roma and Fiorentina. Gianluca Nani has previously attempted to quash the rumours that the versatile midfield ace will depart England next month.

Next there is an unconvincing report that former Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia is on the verge of making an 'emotional' return to the Premier League, with the Hammers fingered as an interested party. The 30-year-old Spanish international has been given permission by current club Atletico Madrid to sign for an English club and is close to completing a loan deal, with the option to make it permanent in the summer. The £2million-rated Garcia spent three seasons with Liverpool between 2004 and 2007 and is best remembered for scoring the Champions League semi-final winner against Chelsea in 2005. He got a standing ovation at Anfield when he returned their with Atletico in the Champions League earlier this season. Newcastle United are the other club said to be an admirer of the Spanish wide-man.

Lastly, you know things at the club have degenerated to an alarming degree when Billy Bonds publicly admits he would rather be watching American Football. Bonzo - who spent almost 27 years with the Hammers and captained us to FA Cup triumphs in 1975 and 1980, admits the only person he now knows at the club is Shirley, who serves the food at the club's Chadwell Heath training ground. He hasn't even bothered taking in a game this season and admits he'd rather be at home with his grandchildren over Christmas than pay a visit to Upton Park. He said: "I've always liked my racing and have watched the NFL for many years. My favourite team is the Chicago Bears and my all-time best player has to be Walter Payton."

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