Friday, 22 January 2010

A Message To You, Ruud

West Ham United have made a move to sign Ruud van Nistelrooy, offering to meet the forward’s £100,000-a-week wages at Real Madrid. That is according to most of this morning's papers at least. When David Sullivan went on the radio last night he would say only that an offer had been made for a "special player" but stopped short of revealing the identity of the intended target. Talking to BBC Radio 5 live, Sullivan revealed: "We've offered £100,000-a-week to a player and we are still not sure we are going to get him. That was a very special player. He's down to three clubs and West Ham are the only English club still in the hunt for him. Whether we get him is another thing."

The size of the offer comes as a surprise after Sullivan, the club’s new joint-chairman, made great play of the perceived excessive spending of the previous regime earlier in the week. The revelation indicates that the ­owners are willing to break the bank for a marquee signing this month, despite their admission about the dire level of financial strife at Upton Park. With West Ham struggling in the league- currently 16th and only out of the relegation zone on goal difference- it is an indication of the new regime's desperation to avoid the "horrendous" prospect of relegation.

"There's no transfer fee involved and he's got the choice of almost every club in Europe. He has played at the highest level," Sullivan added. "We can carry one exceptional player, who would make a difference on that wage, but generally we have to bring the wages down and in the summer we would hope to sign younger players on a fraction of those wages. We have looked at a few players in the Championship but the reality is that it is no good if they make the grade in 12 months time, we need them to make the grade now. We have a crisis and you have to have a different strategy to what our long-term strategy will be."

Sullivan has reportedly targeted two strikers and a defender to sign in the January transfer window as he tries to get West Ham out of relegation trouble. "We are trying to sign players because unfortunately we have come in very, very late and we have got a very unbalanced squad," added Sullivan. "We are particularly short of strikers and they are the hardest and most difficult position to fill. That's the short-term objective. We have guaranteed that we will not sell a player in the transfer window and we are looking at targets. We are doing our best for West Ham but at the moment we are drawing blanks. It's a difficult time to sign players but the club desperately needs strikers and we have to bring some in."

Gold and Sullivan, who left Birmingham City in November following Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung's takeover, took control of the Hammers on Tuesday in a deal which concluded a long-running saga over the club's ownership. At the media conference to announce the takeover, Sullivan revealed the scale of West Ham's debts and he re-iterated on Thursday that the club "from top-to-bottom" is "very inefficient". Asked how much of a crisis it would be if West Ham were relegated, Sullivan replied: "It would be absolutely horrendous, that's all I can say. It doesn't even bear thinking about. It can't happen and it must not happen. That's why we are doing everything in our power for it not to happen."

Sullivan suffered relegation and promotion with Birmingham but he believes the drop has bigger consequences for West Ham than it does to his former club. "Birmingham is a much smaller club, it does not have the same potential as West Ham," he said. "We never took on the wage bill at Birmingham, where the highest paid player is on £25,000-a-week. If they got relegated it wasn't pleasant but you could take a season of it because it was built into the equation. We've inherited a situation at West Ham where it's not built into the equation in any shape or form. If we weren't supporters we wouldn't have taken it on. There is no other club we would have taken on this liability for and risked a huge amount of money for - we could lose the lot."

BBC Sport 'understands' that prior to the takeover West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury had been trying to bring Van Nistelrooy to Upton Park. The Guardian states the 33-year-old Dutchman, who joined the Spanish giants from Manchester United in 2006, has been unable to hold down a regular place at Madrid and wants to go to the World Cup with Holland. He has also reportedly attracted interest in England from Stoke and Tottenham Hotspur and from Turkey's Galatasaray among other clubs. The Times report that it is an 'audacious' move for a striker who has played only four times this season for Real, where his contract ends this summer. At any rate, they write, Van Nistelrooy would need considerable persuading to join the club and would prefer a move to Tottenham, who are also interested in the player, but want Real to continue to pay some of his wages. The Telegraph think that talks between the player and our north London rivals are already 'at an advanced stage'.

The Mail insist the Dutchman is believed to have turned his nose up at the prospect of a move to Upton Park and the prospect of an arduous relegation battle. The shock absorbers may be past their best and the engine has plenty of miles on the clock, but when it comes to Van the Man the pros still outweigh the cons by some considerable distance, writes Simon Cass. Van Nistelrooy is in demand and, given he is available from Real Madrid for a nominal fee, it is little surprise he has attracted a lot of interest. Just as Sir Alex Ferguson was prepared to gamble on the Dutchman despite his arrival at Old Trafford being postponed by a cruciate ligament injury, so an eight-month lay-off with a torn meniscus has done little to deter current suitors. Van Nistelrooy clearly feels he still has plenty to offer, hence his decision to bide his time in search of a chance to end his career on a big stage. Such ambition, which may explain his reluctance to sign up for West Ham's relegation struggle, would also seem to put paid to Stoke City's approach, while a move to Galatasaray is believed to hold little attraction.

The same paper believe United could now join Hull City in the growing Premiership race for Kris Boyd - with Aston Villa and Birmingham City already keen on landing the Rangers striker. However, any move would likely be a pre-contract offer for a summer switch and the Hammers' needs appear more immediate than that. In other news, Blackburn Rovers have told West Ham that Benni McCarthy will cost variously between £3-4 million after rejecting a £1.25 million bid for the South Africa striker. That will come as a shock to the player, who today's Mirror claims will tell Blackburn he wants to leave - and is keen to head for new-look West Ham in a deadline deal. Alan Nixon insists the South African striker is fed up with his role at Sam Allardyce's club and wants Rovers to sell him to the Hammers, despite rival interest from Turkish giants Galatasaray. McCarthy was left on the bench for the Carling Cup semi-final with Aston Villa and plans to make a quick exit - with Hammers keen and the Turks even ready to fly him to Istanbul today. The much-travelled forward would rather head for London, but he will have to stamp his feet hard as Blackburn are digging in for close to their increased valuation.

Also in the Mirror is a story by Darren Lewis that credits Birmingham and West Ham with having made inquiries about taking unsettled AC Milan striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on loan. The former Ajax marksman has spent the season on the bench at the San Siro, with just three goals since moving to the club last summer from Real Madrid. Huntelaar also spent just one season in Spain and is desperate for a club where he can gain regular first-team football and, like Van Nistlerooy, make it into the Holland squad for the World Cup. His agent, Arnold Oosterveer, said: "He wants to play more. I can confirm the interest of some English clubs but I will not name names out of respect for them. Huntelaar just wants to play more, whether in England, Germany, Italy or Spain. In football, anything is possible. Everything can change in just a few days. We'll see what happens from here until the end of the winter market."

Elsewhere, Manchester City are said to have bid £15 million for United midfielder Valon Behrami. Writing in today's Telegraph, Jason Burt states the offer for the Swiss international will test the resolve of West Ham’s new owners to hold on to one of their star players. However the co-chairmen may decide that, by cashing in on the 24 year-old, they would be able to provide extra funds to bolster Gianfranco Zola’s relegation-threatened squad. According to Burt, West Ham have so far made it clear that Behrami, who was signed from Lazio for £5 million, on a five-year deal in July 2008, is not for sale. They are, however, willing to countenance offers for Matthew Upson who is 30 and who, with less than 18 months left on his deal, has made it apparent that he does not want to sign a new contract.

Hidden in the same article is news that West Ham will make an approach for Aston Villa’s Luke Young as right-back is a priority. The club are also planning to sign another goalkeeper as cover for Robert Green, who, nevertheless, wants to leave in the summer, while Sullivan still intends to sign two strikers. To that end, talks have taken place with Villa’s Marlon Harewood — who is on loan at Newcastle United — to go with the £1.25 million bid that has been lodged for Blackburn Rovers’ Benni McCarthy. West Ham have also been in contact with representatives for Monaco’s Eidur Gudjohnsen and are reportedly keen on taking Benjani Mwaruwari on loan from Manchester City, who may resist because they have loaned out Jô to Galatasaray for the rest of the season.

1 comment:

TBI said...

It's official. We are the new Man City.


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