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Maybe the hardest bit is yet to come

Filed: Monday, 31st July 2017
By: Paul Walker

So far so good, this has been the best transfer window in years at West Ham, but David Sullivan probably knows the toughest bit is yet to come.

Our majority shareholder has overseen a very impressive window of action and not words, of very decent signings that are an improvement, every one of them, on what we had before. And many feel there may be one more big money signing still to come, considering the £30m we have raised from outgoing transfers so far.

Sullivan and his team have received deserved praise--yes, even from me (I know, Iíll try not to let it happen again!) as we have seen real talent arrive at the London Stadium. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez have over 700 Premier League appearances between them, and thatís just the experience of the English top flight that Slaven Bilic has been crying out for.

But, and thereís always a but, sorry, we now have predatory big clubs--well maybe not Everton but certainly Liverpool--sniffing around our squad.

Itís the stuff of the summer months. When you are on the receiving end of transfer speculation it is written off as the silly season without any foundation. When you are doing the same thing--Marko springs to mind--it is deadly serious, despite what Stoke were saying.

I am always amused by the predictable comments that always emerge. Firstly a manager says ďthere have been no bids,Ē then a club insider insists the player is not for sale and under long term contract anyway, then someone gets accused of tapping up said player(pause here for universal laughter throughout the corrupt industry), and then the player slaps in a transfer request and all hell break lose.

It always ends with the player leaving, after training on his own for a while, Dimitri Payet and Virgil van Dijk spring to mind. Players and agents always get their way in the end.

These past few days have seen Everton linked with James Collins and Winston Reid while Liverpool (and Spurs?) are hovering around Manuel Lanzini.

Now West Ham have said all the right things here. Ken Dyer in Mondayís Standard reports that the club insist Reid is not for sale. Last week exactly the same thing was said about Lanzini. The response to the Collins stuff was a little different, with our club saying the ball was in Gingeís court and nobody would want to stand in the way of the 33 year-old making a few extra bob if he could.

I understand the Collins situation, but hate the thought of one of our finest servants leaving. He has given everything, blood, sweat and not one tear--not him is it?--for West Ham and we all love him for it.

I would like to see him end his career with us, get some coaching badges and have a job here for life. He deserves that level of respect. Every season he starts as third or fourth-choice centre back and ends up playing half the matches and dragging us out of the mire single handed because the rest canít be trusted to tie their own boots properly.

But he knows he is fourth choice now and that talented kids like Declan Rice, Reece Burke and Reece Oxford--done well in Germany already lads, hasnít he?--are waiting in the wings. Heís out of contract next summer and if he fancies a new two-year contract at Everton and a pay rise, who are we to stand in his way? My view GingeÖstay with us, you know you will be a battle-scarred regular come December!

Now the other two. LetĎs first dismiss all this silly season rubbish. I doubt there is one approach, one transfer, one move anywhere, that the player, his agent and family donít know about well in advance.

Itís a total fallacy to suggest otherwise. No club goes into a potential deal without testing the water first, is the player interested, how much money is on offer, whatís the contract like and can he have a nice mansion in Southport?

Not for one second do Reid and Lanziniís people not know everything there is to know about potential moves for their players. So West Ham can deny it all, pour on cold water, whatever. Payet showed how itís done, and so too did Jose Fonte (to a lesser extent) and Arnautovic as well.

Stoke have been pretty pissed off by that deal, because we have taken their best player. And there are a few Stoke fans of my acquaintance who have long been unimpressed by Markoís brother/agent. Ho hum, itís just the way of business.

The one bit that does worry me is that Reid is yet to sign a new, promised contract yet. I have searched the club website, and various worthy and creditable fansí blogs and news websites to no avail.

Reid got the hump last season when Fonte arrived on allegedly bigger wages. He was promised more and the last I saw was a proposed deal that increased his buy-out to £15m and his wages in line with his Portuguese team-mate. That was a couple of months ago. Has it been fully negotiated or even signed? If not a few folk at the LS need to get their act together.

Thatís why, it seems, that the potential fee is only £9m, with buy-anything-that-moves Everton looking for a deal to cover for injured defender Ramiro Funes Mori. Firstly, that fee is a joke. Reid is our best defender, occasional captain and key part of our defence. Heís worth well north of £20m to us.

Reid, represented by the Danish based ApS agency, is well aware of his value to us and itís no surprise that transfer talk starts while contract talks are ambling their way to conclusion.

Michail Antonio, or to be precise his agent Will Salthouse, also talked a lot about a transfer out of the club while they were trying, successfully in the end, to hammer out a new four year deal on near double-your-money wages. The pattern of negotiations is so blindingly obvious every time.

Lanzini has a similar contract position. He were told a month back that he was next on the list for a new deal. Antonio, Pedro Obiang and Angelo Ogbonna have got theirs. Manu has been away rubbing shoulders with Lionel Messi and winning his first caps for Argentina, so he certainly knows his worth now if not before.

We need to sort this deal out double quick. He has become absolutely key to us, after a great season in the wake of Payetís departure. The mere thought of him going to Liverpool if Philippe Coutinho moves on to Barcelona is too horrific to contemplate.

West Ham know all too well that such a move for Lanzini, Reid too, goes against everything they have been working for this summer. Expectation has been raised, good players signed, people are enthused again. Losing your best players is not the way to maintain respect from the fans.

But there is always íno smoke without fireí in transfer rumours. Maybe these transfer rumblings are just that. Summer fiction, but Sullivan knows he dare not let such situations run and run. New contracts, bigger wages etc are in order. But then, as we found with Payet and Stoke found with Arnautovic, even that may not be enough. Letís hope not and I am worrying for no reason.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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