Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Truth And A Pinch Of Salt

It is dreadful to die of thirst in the sea. Do you have to salt your truth so much that it can no longer even quench thirst?
As usual an inchoate mass of contradictory reports, conflicting rumours and desultory conjecture makes for a tempting but ultimately disorientating Sunday gossip round-up. The Independent has concocted a fairly exhaustive list of potential West Ham United transfer targets beginning with a possible £4 million raid for Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor, also said to be interesting Tottenham. For what it is worth, the Star believes Zola is more interested in the Toon's England Under-19 striker Andy Carroll. They report that Gianfranco Zola has been promised funds to spend this summer – and is looking to build with solid young English players. With other clubs also interested, the Geordies may be forced to consider an offer of around £3million.

Next in the Independent is old favourite Matthew Bates. The 22-year-old is out of contract and is eager for an immediate return to the Premier League and Lucas Neill's refusal to sign a new contract at Upton Park has sparked the Hammers into action to find a replacement. Another option for that slot is Rod Fanni of Stade Rennais. The French international defender's representative, admitted: "We have been in talks with several clubs including West Ham, which is an interesting option to Rod." The 27-year-old is also being tracked by Everton and would reportedly cost in the region of £6million.

The Independent insists former Chelsea midfielder Sam Dalla Bona is back on the radar having had an unsuccessful trial with West Ham earlier this year. Dalla Bona, who played with Zola during the West Ham manager's playing days is keen on a re-union. "I would love to come back to the Premier League - that can motivate any player," said the 28-year-old. A more high profile midfield target is Luis Jimenez. It was reported earlier this week that West Ham had opened talks with Inter Milan for the Chilean, who is valued here at £3.5million. The News of the World is in agreement with the price and states the Hammers are confident of clinching the signing after club officials met with the FA on Friday to lobby for a 'special case' work permit for the attacking midfielder.

An unlikely name on the article's list is Yossi Benayoun. The former Hammer has been linked with a return to Upton Park but reported interest from Barcelona suggests the Israeli may be out of West Ham's league. The Independent claims the 29-year-old was a big favourite at Upton Park and his return would be welcomed but considering the Hammers financial plight, re-signing him looks like a long shot.

A trendy rumour this week has been Daniel Sturridge. The Manchester City striker has been tagged with an exit from Eastlands after rejecting a new contract. Although initially linked with a switch to Chelsea, some reports suggest he would be happier to move to West Ham where he would be likely to gain more first-team football. The paper suggests the 19-year-old could expect to earn £75,000 a week at Chelsea, a wage demand that West Ham may not be able to give in to. Writing in the News of the World, Rob Shepherd states Sturridge is a free agent but, under Premier League rules protecting clubs who lose Academy graduates, City can claim compensation. Should that be close to the £10million boss Hughes feels they deserve, that could be a further hurdle for the Hammers.

The first of three possible forward options is said to be Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli. He is reportedly open to the possibility of a loan move, with West Ham said to be leading the chase should he become available. Zola worked with the 18-year-old when with the Italian under-21 side and knows what a capable player he is. Carlos Vela is the second potential loan move. The Mexican finally made his debut for Arsenal this season after protracted work permit issues, making a total of 13 league appearances. Arsene Wenger reportedly thinks Vela has a future at Arsenal but may be open to the idea of a loan move to build up the 20-year-old's experience in the Premier League. Finally in the Independent, Italian striker Sergio Floccari has reportedly been ear-marked as the man to lead the line for the Hammers. The 27-year-old reached double figures for Atalanta this season and is on the fringes of the national side. The main sticking point will be the fee, with West Ham probably needing to break their own transfer record fee that they paid for Savio Nsereko if they want to bring in the forward.

Whether successful or not in securing any of these players, Rob Shepherd insists Zola will have to sell to finance significant signings and it looks as though England defender Matthew Upson could be tempted by Manchester City - though he is still reportedly waiting to see if Arsenal will come in for him. The People has a slightly different take and suggests Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is lining up a move for Upson- with West Ham's new owners prepared to sell the England defender. The story reports that the defender has also been a long-term target for Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp but O'Neill has already expressed an interest in a player who used to play for Villa's arch-rivals Birmingham City. On a positive note, keeper Robert Green is said to be ready to stay at the club, saying: "I have a good rapport with the fans and I love playing for the manager."

The Mirror comes out of left-field with a story linking West Ham with Juventus midfielder Tiago. The former Chelsea player has been linked with the Tottenham (naturally) West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers in the last week. Tiago said: "French football does not receive much publicity, but I was happy there. Obviously the Premier League is right up there, but Italian football is very tactical and does not suit my characteristics. A return to Portugal would also be a nice option, as I have never won the title in my homeland and given the opportunity I’d like to achieve that dream."

Finally, the Sunday Express proves itself to be heroically out-of-step with its contemporaries with the claim West Ham’s new Icelandic owners have 'set their sights on the world as well as Europe'. Colin Mafham writes that after agreeing a £100million deal to rescue the Hammers from the threat of administration, they are considering reopening talks about moving into London’s Olympic Stadium after the Games finish in 2012. The move comes after the company set up by four Icelandic banks to buy the club, gave the go-ahead for a new training complex near their training ground at Chadwell Heath.

And CB Holdings are also set to give manager Gianfranco Zola the cash to make a bid for Manchester City striker Sturridge and Inter Milan’s Jimenez. Zola is anxious to boost his strike force and is particularly keen to end Sturridge’s stay at Eastlands for around £3million. Cheerily, the new owners have also promised Zola up to £20million to strengthen a squad which just missed out on a place in Europe last season. And it is here that I choose to set sail. For when driven to vertiginous delirium by innumerable conflicting truths, I say surrender yourself to the triumph of hope over experience and fix your eyes towards the Fata Morgana on your claret and blue horizon.

"Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink."


Paul said...

Fata Morgana - the apparent vertical distortion of the horizon and Claret and Blue: an interesting comparison! Hmm. I think the truth for our Hammers lies somewhere nearer the Green Flash: a short lived, but intense and verdant flare - perhaps next season everything with coalesce for us with a couple of new signings? Let's hope so.

Fabulous writing, on a topic I love. Keep it up.


gaz said...

Thanks for clearing that up Paul i was thinking Fata Morgana was our latest welsh/italien signing.

Anonymous said...

I know it has been said, but great to have you back on...


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