Monday, 19 January 2009

Cope And Prosper

Craig Bellamy has been given permission to talk to Manchester City after the club agreed a fee with West Ham United for his transfer last night. There are conflicting media reports regarding the actual sum involved, with the figure variously reported to be between £10 million and a possible £15million. The Times understands the offer to be £12million upfront plus a further £2million in additional payments, while the Mail insist City have agreed to pay an initial £10million for the 29-year-old striker, with an additional £2million to follow related to performance. Whatever the truth, Bellamy is scheduled to undergo a medical at the City of Manchester Stadium, with City expected to confirm the deal later today.

Bellamy would be the second arrival at the City of Manchester Stadium this month after they signed Wayne Bridge, the left back, from Chelsea, also for £12 million. The Mail states Bellamy’s advisers were sorting out personal terms last night, with the Wales international thought to be keen on linking up again with his former national team boss Mark Hughes. The dramatic movement in City's transfer activity will come as a relief to manager Mark Hughes who has, because of West Ham's unwillingness to sell to their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, finally succeeded in landing Bellamy.

The player walked out of West Ham on Friday after demanding that he be allowed to leave the club for Spurs who had bid £12m for him. In all, West Ham rejected six bids from Spurs and City for Bellamy as they held out to get as close as possible to their £15m valuation for the Welsh international. Last night Spurs manager Harry Redknapp conceded defeat, even though he felt he had persuaded Bellamy to move to White Hart Lane. However, in a series of discussions West Ham's chief executive Scott Duxbury reiterated the club's stance that they would not sell to Spurs and especially under the circumstances which led to Bellamy being left out of the squad for yesterday's home victory over Fulham.

The Times reports that Bellamy acknowledged that West Ham have been willing to sell him in an attempt to reduce their bank overdraft. He accepted that and believed that he had a verbal agreement with West Ham to talk to any club bidding more than £10 million. He was, therefore, angered when he was not given permission to talk to Tottenham last week when they offered an initial £10 million, rising by £2 million on appearances. West Ham turned down the offer, in part, because they did not want to sell to their London rivals, but also they want an initial £12 million transfer fee. West Ham have preferred that Bellamy joins City and the player, who often returns to his family home in Cardiff, is understood to be happy to move to City.

"Once Manchester City are in for a player, the rest of us have no chance," Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, said. "They outbid and out-pay. It is difficult to get him now." Meanwhile, Redknapp wishes to locate the mole who keeps leaking his transfer business to the national media. This is puzzling, muses Martin Samuel in today's Mail, as the person who could be seen on Sky Sports News talking up the talents of Bellamy when the transfer window opened did not look much like a burrowing mammal of the family Talpidae. He did, however, look very much like Harry Redknapp.

As Craig Bellamy headed north for talks aimed at joining the sky blue revolution at Eastlands, the team he leaves behind believe they can cope and prosper and will invest the income. Gianfranco Zola wants the situation sorted out in the next 48 hours so he can get to work on finding a replacement. The Italian confirmed he has been assured by the board that he will be given the money from Bellamy’s sale. "Yes, I will get the money," he said. "We are looking for a replacement and we will find something. It is important to deal with the situation as soon as possible. I haven’t set a deadline, but it needs to be soon because I need to get on with my squad. I need to work out how we can sort things out, so it needs to be quick. My job is to make it work on the pitch and that is what I am trying to do. The club will deal with all the other matters. They know what I think about the situation and that is enough."

The Telegraph states Zola has been promised the profits from the sale to bolster his squad and one target is expected to be Cardiff captain Joe Ledley, who could be lured to Upton Park for around £5million. West Ham have a tradition of signing Welsh players; presently in the squad are Welshmen Danny Gabbidon (allegedly), Bellamy, James Collins and Jack Collison. Stoke failed in a bid to sign Ledley in August, and they could attempt to hijack West Ham's move. With his contract expiring in 18 months and with a new stadium to finance, Cardiff could accept a reasonable bid before the curtain comes down on the transfer window on Feb 2. Ledley is 22 on Friday but has already reached the milestone of 200 games for Cardiff, achieved at the weekend, when it is understood he was watched by West Ham representatives.

The Guardian agree that Gianfranco Zola has been assured that he will be allowed to reinvest the proceeds from Bellamy’s sale. They think the club are considering Pablo Daniel Osvaldo as a replacement after the former Italy Under-21 striker was told that he can leave Fiorentina if they receive a £7 million transfer fee. Bologna are also interested in Osvaldo, but want to offer Massimo Marazzina, the striker, as part of the deal.

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