Chemistry can be a good and bad thing. Chemistry is good when you make love with it. Chemistry is bad when you make crack with it.
The owners of West Ham United insist they have not given up hope of bringing Joe Cole and Thierry Henry to the club. The club’s co-chairmen targeted Cole after Chelsea decided not to extend the former United midfielder’s stay. While Arsenal look to be favourites to sign Cole, David Gold stated he would not interrupt Cole’s England preparations. "We, as much as anyone, want England to do well so there’s absolutely no chance of us talking to Joe during the World Cup," he said. "After that, it’s a different matter. When it comes to big transfers we don’t like to leave any stone unturned. The chance of getting Cole is 10-1. We probably won’t get him but the offer is still there."
West Ham are also pursuing Barcelona striker Henry, with Gold adding: "There is the same chance of Henry coming but we will try. We had a chat with him for a bit but it looks like he is going to be offered another contract. The offer is still on the table for him too and it will be there for another two or three weeks." A third high-profile target is Everton centre forward Yakubu. It is thought the Hammers have now made two offers for the Nigerian striker and both have been rejected. After having an initial bid of £4 million turned down, West Ham moved in with a second offer of £7 million, but that too was rejected. David Sullivan remains convinced that Everton will sell, particularly as they now have an overload of forwards, having signed 20-year-old striker Joao Silva from Portuguese second division club Desportivo Das Aves.
Although Yakubu struggled with six goals last term, he was coming back from a serious achilles injury and Avram Grant believes he can recover his sharpness through the World Cup and extra pre-season training. The Mail reports Everton need the funds as they are keen on Manchester City's Craig Bellamy, Nedum Onuoha and Martin Petrov. Manager David Moyes is also said to be keen to bring in a couple of young players and does not want to sell Yakubu unless he has a guaranteed replacement lined up - plus a figure closer to the £11.25m he paid Middlesbrough in 2007.
The same paper also credits United with an interested in Tottenham's Adel Taarabt, 21, who was on loan at QPR last season. Other unsubstantiated names to be belched up from the ITK rumour machine include Chelsea stalwart Paulo Ferreira, Aston Villa defender Curtis Davis, Norwegian international Jarl André Storbæk, Saint-Etienne striker Gonzalo Rubén Bergessio and Blackburn defender Christopher Samba, who some remain convinced is very close to signing. There are also dark intimations of the return of a former player, but as yet no name.
Since taking over the club in January, Sullivan and Gold have made it clear they are intent on making a "marquee" signing that would boost the stature and commercial backing of the club. After failing in their quest to sign former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, the duo have turned their attention elsewhere. "We have had it in the past where we have thrown the net out far and we will throw the net out again in the future," Gold said. "When we were the owners of Birmingham City, nobody would have thought that we would have been able to get Christophe Dugarry but we did and he had an amazing half a season and he kept us in the Premier League." That said, the duo are at pains to emphasise they will not jeopardise the club's financial future by needlessly over-spending.
With the talk of big name arrivals it is easy to forget that the club will almost certainly be losing a few more players from the current squad. Playmaker Alessandro Diamanti is apparently very close to moving to Parma, according to Sky Italia. The 27-year-old former Livorno star was put on West Ham's transfer list at the end of last season along with every other member of their squad apart from Scott Parker. As suggested yesterday, Parma President Tommaso Ghirardi hopes to loan Diamanti with an option to sign him outright next summer. The Gialloblu are in a transition phase after Francesco Guidolin left for Udinese last month.
There are also several tabloid reports that Tottenham have contacted the club over the availability of Carlton Cole. The England striker, 26, has already been linked with Liverpool, Arsenal, Stoke and Birmingham, and this has supposedly prompted boss Harry Redknapp to make an early approach. Cole made an impressive start to last season, ending up with 10 goals as the Hammers just stayed up. Redknapp wants to boost his strike force ahead of Spurs’ Champions League campaign and Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko, Sevilla forward Luis Fabiano and Palermo’s Edinson Cavani also feature on his hitlist.
One person who will not be leaving the club, according to Gold, is England goalkeeper Robert Green. "He has two years left on his contract and we hope he will start the season and be with us for years to come so we are very happy with him," Gold said. "He is a world class goalkeeper and we want him to stay with us."
On a separate note, David Gold insists that Avram Grant was the stand-out candidate to fill the club's vacant managerial position. The likes of Slaven Bilic, Mark Hughes and Sam Allardyce were all linked with the position, but once Gold met with the former Portsmouth boss he knew immediately he was right for the job. "When you're searching for a manager the most important thing you look at is the chemistry," said Gold. "By the time you meet them, you've done all the reading and you know what they look like because you've seen them on television hundreds of times. When you meet with the person, though, you have to have that camaraderie or that instant chemistry that makes you think 'I can work with this person' and that was the case with Avram. He was head and shoulders above everyone else. He was superb in his company, I felt comfortable with him. We talked football and a three-hour meeting with him just flew by and I knew that was our man."