Transfer Gossip

What Is Payet's Minimum Acceptable Transfer Value?

It’s just before midnight here in Washington DC and I’ve just had a rather unusual experience. Whenever I come to this wonderful city I always like to visit the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials late at night. Tonight I went to the Jefferson Memorial where I ran into a group of Trump supporters from Alabama, who are here for the inauguration. I interviewed several of them for my radio show but when we had finished one of them asked which team I support. As soon as I mentioned West Ham, he instantly asked about Dimitri Payet. Weird, or what!

Well the Payet saga shows no sign of ending anytime soon. Marseille are said to be about to table a new bid but I doubt if any of us seriously believe it will be anything like the £30 million the club has set as its unofficial minimum valuation.

There is little doubt in my mind that Payet has played his last game for us and will never again appear in a claret and blue shirt. I’ve got over being sad about it. Now I’m just angry.

Realistically, we have to sell him in this transfer window. Leaving it until the summer and letting his rot in the reserves would be an act of ridiculous self harm. By then he will have turned thirty and we’d be lucky to get £15 million for him.

So we have to swallow our pride and get the deal done for the highest possible price. But there has to be a minimum. I’d like to say that should be £30 million, but my suspicion is that he will be sold for £25 million plus a few add ons.

What would your minimum price be?

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Match Report

Reflecting on Crystal Palace and Testing Times

What a delight it is to be writing an article after such a galvanised team performance. The energy, the intent, the unity and desire were there for all to see, and the eye did not go wanting.

From the majestic Lanzini, to the powerful Antonio and acrobatic Carroll, the performance was invigorating, especially in the second half.

Payet

I considered not mentioning Payet in my article, but I decided not to shy away from it and more for myself than anything, my thoughts are as follows.

The club let Payet down over the summer and with the concept of the ‘project’ that they sold to him. While this is no excuse for his actions, it has to be mentioned. Although this is not reported as the reason for his actions, it is where the club have been at fault.

I find his actions disgraceful and to see Bilic close to tears in his press conference reflects how most of us feel by his betrayal. For me, betrayal is a suitable word, although I’ve heard it contested in the media. For me, West Ham and Bilic put Payet on the map, they gave him the platform and belief to break into the France national team and not to mention the largest salary in the clubs history.

Yes, he may wish to return home and may not be happy living in a foreign country, but regardless of the excuses he is contracted to the club and had no issue taking a substantial pay increase, as well as bonus incentives, recently.

Millions of people work away from their families and native countries. Most do so for considerably less money, and a lot will do it out of necessity. So, I do not buy into the theory that Payet has a right to do what he has done.

Had he dealt with the club professionally – Chech for example when he wanted to leave Chelsea but stay in London and go to Arsenal – I’m confident that an arrangement could have been reached with Marseille over the summer. Payet could have given his all this season and left with his pride and legend intact.

Sadly, this is not the case and like a petulant child, he has left himself in an untenable position.

I’m not sure that Marseille or his agent are without blame in this. The fact he had apparently agreed terms on a contract is suspicious and I find their conduct poor to say the least.

To conclude, now Marseille need to put up, or shut up. If they are so desperate to get him then they need to show they have substance behind the hot air. I’d be upset if we sold him for under £40 million to be honest, but I accept this may drop to £35 million or even £30 million to get it done.

He is on a massive contract that is heavily performance based, so his wages reduce significantly if he doesn’t pay. He can also be fined a maximum of two weeks wages for every breach of contract (£250,000), so if his asking price isn’t met then keeping him under punishment may not cost as much as £125,000 per week. The cost may also be easier to swallow than the message sent out if we were to allow him to go on the – relative – cheap.

There are, however, risks to be considered in keeping him, with the moral of the team being my key concern.

Right back

I’m slightly concerned that we do not appear overly active in our pursuit of a right back. While this was always going to be a difficult position to fill, especially in January, we desperately need cover for Byram.

The optimist in me hopes the club are conducting their business behind closed doors and have learnt from past mistakes. The pessimist in me worries that we’re underestimating the importance of filling this position and are leaving it late to act.

I’m surprised that we didn’t move to bring Jenkinson back to the club on loan. He would provide perfect cover for Byram – who we ideally want to make the position his own – and provide competition at the same time.

This, or a similar move, would also allow us more time to plan the recruitment of a first choice target in the summer. The market will be more pliant, with more options, and we can take time to ensure the best decisions are made.

Sagna, Zabaletta and Glen Johnson all become free agents in the summer, should Man City not renew their contracts. All of these players have another season in them, minimum, and could provide experience and vital cover for Byram.

Palace

The first half was nervous from both teams but at no point did we allow Palace to find their rhythm and we looked comfortable and well disciplined. The second half is when we came alive.

A tactical tweak from Bilic – switching to a 4-4-2 – and a wonderful team effort set up a magical second half display. Carroll’s goal of the season contender almost knocked me from my seat and Antonio was at his absolute best working in tandem with Carroll. Between them they terrorised Palace’s defence with their combination of raw power, pace, agility and guile. It was at times mesmerising to watch.

Lanzini was unbelievable. His passing, vision, tackling, tracking and desire was beyond exceptional, and his goal was superb.

Just a few of his stats from the game:

*Three shots – one goal
*87.5% pass completion
*Two chances created
*5/6 take on’s
*Two tackles
*10 ball recoveries

At a time when we desperately needed a good performance, our little Argentine stepped up and showed us what this means to him and the other players. The way the team celebrated together and the unshielded joy and unity on their faces was infectious.

For all of the players mentioned above, and for everyone that played that day, one player’s importance must not go unnoticed. Sam Byram.

I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important his return is to the team. We have been playing with a defensive midfielder at right back and having an out-and-out right back playing in their natural position helped us considerably.

Byram had a good game and showed us what we’ve been missing. His intelligence and understanding of his position allowed him to advance and provide an attacking threat when the time was right, while at the same time dealing with his defensive duties flawlessly. His positioning was superb and even though his stats don’t fairly reflect his contribution, he united the defensive line and allowed the team to operate as a fluid, functional unit.

I rate Byram highly and think he has a bright future ahead of him at West Ham. However, it’s important that we get cover for him and the players mentioned earlier would be ideal as they may only be required to cover for one or two seasons, with hope that we can develop players from our academy. Failing that we would be able to go back into the transfer market at our leisure and take the time necessary to source effectively.

Zaza

One last thing I wanted to mention; I thought Zaza showed real class in his departure. He could have easily blamed the club, the manager, or a number of factors for his failed spell with us – as his father attempted – but in a show of class, Zaza accepted the blame for his failings and as far as I’ve read, has not said a derogatory word against the club or manager.

In light of the recent Payet development, I think it’s important to recognise moments of decency such as this.

Zaza, we wish you well in your career and hope you rediscover the form that took you to Juventus and the Italy national team.

Conclusion

We move on to the Middlesbrough game in high spirits and full of confidence. Borough are a well organised, disciplined team, but if we can muster a performance like last weekend, I fancy us to continue our winning streak.

I want to end by saying how amazing the atmosphere was against Palace. The stadium erupted and the noise was incredible. The fans really are the twelfth man and this showed against Palace. It’s vital we continue to sing and cheer our hearts out every chance we get, home or away, and let the players feel the army of belief behind them.

COYI

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Talking Point

West Ham in a nutshell

There’s never a dull moment with West Ham, as the old adage goes. And last week was “West Ham in a nutshell”, a lot of downs made us desperate, sad and angry at the same time, but at last the Hammers came back in style with their highest victory in the London Stadium so far.

Having moved up the table in December with three consecutive wins against Burnley, Hull and Swansea, in the next three games West Ham did not score a single goal, lost 0-1 at Leicester and 0-2 at home to Manchester United, and in the end got humiliated in the London Stadium by Manchester City: the Hammers were eliminated from the FA Cup in the 3rd round with a 0-5 defeat. And to make things worse, our star player Dimitri Payet went on strike and declared that he wanted away (to his former Club Marseille) and would never kick a ball anymore for West Ham. But it wouldn’t be good old West Ham, if the Hammers hadn’t surprised us in the face of adversity.

And what a victory that was against Crystal Palace in a crucial London derby, what an atmosphere and what a strike by the Big Man against Big Sam’s Eagles who were sent back to South London with a 0-3!

Andy Carroll scored the goal of the season with a magic scissor kick that made forget Payet’s earlier wonder goal with that solo effort against Middlesbrough back in October.

Sofiane Feghouli tapped in his first Premier League goal to make it 1-0, and Manuel Lanzini sealed the win with a fine chip making it 3-0. And the Argentine jumped into the crowd after having scored his goal, as his compatriot Carlos Tevez had done when he had converted a freekick in an other London derby back in 2007 – scoring his first West Ham goal against Tottenham.

What a week

The last week really was West Ham in a nutshell: having been trashed by Manchester City in the FA Cup, rattled by Payet’s infamous behaviour, being on the verge of total despair because of losing the best player before a crucial match that could make us slip down the table again, and still the fans did not really feel at home in the London Stadium being more or less quiet in the first half against Crystal Palace … But then manager Slaven Bilic made a clever substitution after a fairly poor first half, everyone pulled together, the crowd responded when the players showed character and determination, and then the time of Michail Antonio had come:

The winger, who much too often has to play as a defender , had been forced to miss the build-up through illness, but played a decisive part with three crucial assists during the game, the first one of them coming in the 67th Minute. Antonio got in behind a Palace defender and took the ball around Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey. His cross towards goal found Feghouli who was in the right place to knock the loose ball into an empty net.

Carroll secured all three points for the home side in spectacular fashion on 79 minutes. Antonio’s left-footed cross fell perfectly for the Hammers forward and he produced a great piece of skill to fire the perfect scissor kick past Hennessey into the roof of the net.

And then Antonio turned provider once again on 85 minutes as he played the perfect through ball into the path of Lanzini who showed all his class to deliver the perfect chip over the Palace keeper as the Hammers celebrated their highest victory in the London Stadium so far.

Overcoming adversity

From utter despair to highest joy, from 0-5 in the last game eight days before to a convincing 3-0 without the man whose name I don’t want to mention again here! A brilliant comeback that was topped with a wonder goal, three assists from that man Michail Antonio and a jump into the crowd that showed how tense the last week had been and how relieved and happy the players were now! And the fans really felt “United United” in their still unfamiliar new home, everyone pulled together in a time of adversity to overcome this situation and showed spirit and determination!

Well, next weekend could see us move up into the top half of the table if the Irons get three or at least one point from their away game at Middlesbrough. But for today I am happy with West Ham sitting in 12th, nine points away from the relegation zone.


The Mike Ireson Column

Good defeats evil

What a difference a week/day/45 minutes (delete as appropriate ) make. Rollercoaster ride doesn’t get close to describing what it is like to be a Hammers fan at the moment.

Just over a week ago West Ham had their proverbial pants pulled down and Manchester City administered a humiliating bare backside thrashing. One of the most depressing displays many of us can remember, made all too worse by the fact it was beamed live around the world.

As an advert to entice other players and global supporters to join our merry band it couldn’t have gone more disastrously.

We would have made a more positive impression if we had sent the Chuckle Brothers round to take a dump on the carpet in front of the TV.

Then just as we thought it was safe to venture out in public again our ‘star player’decided he didn’t want to be our friend anymore and was going to refuse to have a kick about with us because he wanted to go and play with the bigger boys.

Wallop! We took that sucker punch right between the eyes. We’re on our knees having been globally shamed and someone decides to aim a half eaten, luke warm, covered in chilli sauce kebab at our head.

Oh the indignity of it all. We spent the whole summer fending off the jibes that ‘star player’ was too good for us and he’d go to a ‘proper club’ etc etc.

It’s ok he’s signed a new contract. He is one of us. He’s got his own song.

That’ll teach us.

So it had been a pretty bad week overall. We were lower than the morals of an ungrateful French alley cat.

We needed something, anything to cheer us up. After the first 45 minutes against Crystal Palace it didn’t look hopeful.

But then something magical happened. There is a God after all. We got a second half display to warm the most miserable of cockles.

Over Christmas I had spent an enjoyable couple of hours watching Escape to Victory. And this was ours. No we didn’t want to leg it at half time down the tunnel that the resistance had made for us. We wanted to go back out and win the game.

Come on lads, let’s stick it to Johnny foreigner from south of the river. Andy Carroll did his best Pele impression walloping the ball in to the back of the net with both feet as high as his head.

This is what we needed. A display of old. Lanzini, Carroll and Antonio reminding us that we had more than one ‘star player’.

Oh how good it was to be a West Ham fan again. All was not lost, good always defeats evil (sorry, slightly over dramatic).

I could watch those 3 goals over and over again. Not just for the quality but for the significance that after a week of absolute s###, all was not lost.

Everything was going to be alright. That stray dog on the street wasn’t going to the pound, little Timmy and his family were going to take him in and make it all better.

Well that’s where we are now. Let’s see what the next week brings ……….

COYI


The HamburgHammer Column

Brave Bilic the key to better days ahead

Take a bow Slaven Bilic! Our manager has been through what must have been a few miserable months, capped by the last seven days which surely will have been not your average rollercoaster of emotions for our Croatian manager, more like the Nemesis ride at Alton Towers. Now, initially I had planned to try and write my column without even mentioning Dimitri Payet just in order to prove a point. But frankly, while a lot of us may consider him to be history already and prefer to move on without ever hearing his name again, the truth is that he is still legally a West Ham player and until his sale has been completed he is still the massive bullfrog (or yellow-bellied toad if you prefer) in the room so to speak, so he will of course feature in my column after all.

But first things first! What a fantastic team performance that was. That’s right, TEAM. Which translates as Together Everyone Achieves More. The keyword being together.
Our team hasn’t been together for a long time, I would say not from the very start of the season, coinciding with Payet’s return from the Euro Championships.
Where surely he was tapped up, maybe multiple times. I’m sure by now everyone will have read about how our club and also Bilic bent over backwards in order to make Monsieur Payet feel wanted, loved, appreciated – hindsight is a wonderful thing, and in hindsight it appears that we have rather overdone the royalty treatment.

We’ll see what comes out eventually about Payet’s true motives of wanting to leave NOW rather than wait for the summer when apparently West Ham were quite ready to sell him at that point for the right price, not wishing to stand in the way of an unhappy or homesick player.
The way though in which Payet basically shat on everything he had at our club, not acknowledging the role of our club in making him the household name he is in international football today is truly sad. And a bit pathetic.

From the very beginning he was welcomed and worshipped like a true legend by the Hammers fans, it felt as if he had been at West Ham for years already rather than being a new signing. It indeed was a love affair, alas affairs tend to usually end a) rather quickly and b) rarely on amicable terms – the love between the player and the club, manager and fans is totally lost now for obvious reasons.

But you know what? It’s a mighty relief to finally have identified the main root of our problems this season, at least in terms of the team (ignoring the stadium move for a minute). It looks like indeed Payet’s special treatment he got from the club and management drove a massive wedge right through the dressing room and also the training pitch at Rush Green. It must have been so frustrating for the other players seeing it all being about Payet without our star player backing up all that admiration (and money) with even halfway decent performances on the pitch. The rest of the team obviously felt disrespected and undervalued – and all over a guy who essentially has been a one season wonder for us. Yet the board tied him down to an improved long-term deal while refusing to afford our manager the same courtesy, citing their desire to find out if Bilic was a one season wonder first…

We will now see if the club are willing to let Payet rot for half a season in order to get the right price for our prize asset or cave in and sell on the cheap, just to get rid. With Chinese clubs becoming interested in him too now Payet can not expect to go back to Marseille for ten million quid and six bottles of vintage claret, although both he and Marseille for sure would prefer that of course. I want the club to show some backbone here, sending out a clear massage to the world that no West Ham player (no matter how good he is) can just down tools and strop in order to push through a transfer to his prefered destination for peanuts despite having signed a long-term contract (and a loyalty bonus of 1 million quid too) just recently.

Players are on long-term contracts for a reason. They can ask for a transfer obviously if they no longer wish to stay, but certainly not on their terms. Clubs need to be protected in a way that they get at least their fair share should a player want to leave well before reaching the expiry date of his contract.

So, to finish off the Payet issue: Sell him as quickly as possible, yes, but only for a price that mirrors his true market value for his next club. That is much closer to 35 or 40 million rather than 20 in my book. With China involved maybe even 50 million. How our owners will decide to spend that kind of money, if they spend any that is, is anybody’s guess though.
I’m confident we will make at least a few signings in January, not necessarily for NOW as we are pretty much safe from relegation already, but maybe we will pick up some players for the future (like Hogan) now in order to not miss out on them in the summer (similar to what we did when we picked up Byram).

It was a pleasure to see our team perform, well, like a team on Saturday, especially in the second half. All the players suddenly seemed to have found another gear or two being freed from the shackles of forever running about in the shadow of the French Messiah (he’s not really, just a very naughty boy!). The lads played (and celebrated the goals) like a team should, together, happy to sweat blood and guts for each other. It also seemed to unite the crowd at London Stadium and Lanzini’s jump into the stands was a nice touch.
(Although only West Ham players seem to get punished with a booking for this kind of thing these days.)

I am not sure if Lanzini did it on a whim or whether it was premeditated (as a nod to the Tevez celebration after he scored his first for West Ham or as a subtle hint in the direction of a sulking Frenchman that he was neither needed nor wanted back in the team anymore). Either way, it felt incredible to hear the whole ground singing Slaven’s praise and boy, did the man deserve it!
If there is one guy this club should be built around, if our fanbase should rally round one chap capable of putting some pride back into this club it is not a player, but our manager.

Sure, he makes mistakes too as he is only a human being after all (trying to turn Antonio into a RB obviously was a massive clanger). But for me he is the perfect link connecting us to the passion, traditions and values that are so dear to loyal Hammers fans all over the globe. If we want things to improve for us in the next few years, we need to make sure to keep Bilic at West Ham for a long time, so rather than throwing money at another bigger than his boots primadonna player I would offer Bilic a contract extension NOW.
Send out a signal that Bilic is our man for the future and then bloody support him with transfer funds too. It’ll be money well spent in my view.
(Well, Bilic didn’t know that Tore would get a long-term injury at West Ham, did he ?)

A final word needs to be said about Andy Carroll. That was a world class goal indeed and it’s highly encouraging to see him score goals like that because it very much proves that on his day he is so much more than just a battering ram, thundering in headers or knocking balls down for his teammates. We may have to wait for another goal of that quality at London Stadium for another 20 years or so.

The key for him will be to look after himself and stay injury-free, then the sky will be the limit for him really. Oh yes, also try to play with two strikers more in future.
I don’t even think it matters that much if it is Sakho, Fletcher, Martinez, Calleri (or Hogan?) – as long as you have another outlet upfront, staying close to Carroll, pouncing to exploit any space or opportunity created by Carroll’s presence we will begin to score more goals on a regular basis.

What a great feeling to be talking about positives again for a change! It’s vital now that our board don’t rest on their laurels or sit on their hands and wallets. Our fanbase deserve to see investment in our team. Our manager deserves support in his endeavour to build a great team. A great team for West Ham will always be more about players working well as a unit, a well-oiled machine, rather than trying to keep superstar primadonnas happy. Maybe that just isn’t the West Ham way.

Maybe it’s a lesson learned the hard way with Payet. Maybe we don’t need 40 million quid players after all, even in a 60.000 seater stadium. Maybe we just need to sing more songs for Bilic and keep him happy, it’s certainly worth a try! COYI!

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