Monday, June 22

Daily WHUFC News - 22nd June 2015

2014/15 Season Review - May

A top ten finish was still in sight during the final month of a long campaign yet results transpired against the Irons toward the end of Big Sam's reign. On paper, the month of May did not look the hardest yet, as has been proved time and again, football does not always go to plan. Three of the Hammers four opponents were battling relegation and the fight for Premier League survival brought the best out of Burnley, Aston Villa and Newcastle United. The Clarets made the journey south to east London knowing only a win would do to ease their relegation fears. Sean Dyche's men made a bright start yet their luck was out when the Hammers were awarded a penalty after Michael Duff tripped Cheikhou Kouyate. An undisputable penalty, yet the resultant red card added insult to injury. Mark Noble stepped up confidently to notch his second goal of the campaign. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ran out for the Hammers. First, Aston Villa proved too much as Tom Cleverley's strike separated the two sides before Everton sought revenge for the FA Cup replay victory back in January.

In an hugely entertaining encounter, the Hammers took the lead through Stewart Downing before Leon Osman's acrobatic finish levelled the proceedings. Persistent menace Romelu Lukaku continued his habit of scoring against the Hammers, however this time he saved himself until the 93rd minute to tap home from close range. The defeat to the Toffees meant a top half finish was possible, yet unlikely. The tense atmosphere surrounding Newcastle United was palpable. Following a dismal run of results, the final relegation spot would be occupied by either the Magpies or Hull City.

John Carver's men went to task to avoid relegation and their efforts were rewarded with second half goals from Moussa Sissoko and Jonas Gutierrez. A mixture of relief and triumph swept over St. James' Park. The final whistle also brought to the end Sam Allardyce's reign as West Ham United manager as it was announced that the 60-year-old's contract would not be renewed. A cliché perhaps, but it really was a season of two halves. Role on 2015/16…

UEFA Europa League - qualifying draw guide

The draws for the first and second qualifying rounds of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League will be made on Monday, with West Ham United joining 103 other clubs in the hat.

The first qualifying round draw will be made at 12noon UK time on Monday with the second qualifying round draw to follow at 1.30pm UK time, with both being streamed live online at

The two-legged first qualifying round ties will be played on Thursday 2 and Thursday 9 July on a home and away basis, with the second qualifying round scheduled for Thursday 16 and Thursday 23 July.

Kick-off times are yet to be confirmed.

The Hammers are the only English representative in the draw and one of three clubs to have qualified for the tournament through finishing top of their domestic Fair Play League. The other two, Dutch side Go Ahead Eagles and Irish outfit University College Dublin (UCD), were both relegated last season and are the only clubs in the draw who do not play in their domestic top flight.

How does the draw work?

As is always the case, the draw looks set to be a long, slightly confusing and rather convoluted affair.

The first and second qualifying round draws are not regionalised. However, clubs are split into seeding groups ahead of the draw, with each group containing the same number of seeded and unseeded teams.
Before the draw, a computer system is used to prepare the groups such that teams of the same association are not in the same group and that all groups are similar strength (in terms of coefficient value ranking).

All the clubs in each group are ordered randomly and identified by a number. For this example, West Ham could be randomly selected as a No6. There are only two bowls with numbered balls, one with the seeded numbers and one with the unseeded numbers.

The draw determines the pairs in the groups: e.g. (No6 v No4) which means that West Ham and all the other seeded No6 teams in each group play against the unseeded No4 club of each group. In this scenario, West Ham would be at home in the first leg.

In both draws, each club in each seeding group is allocated a number. Balls containing the seeded numbers are placed in one bowl, with balls for the unseeded numbers in the same group placed in another bowl.

The groupings for the second qualifying round will be made after the first qualifying round draw. The balls representing the winners of each first qualifying round tie will take the coefficient of the seeded club in each tie.

Should West Ham progress, they would have the fifth-highest coefficient value in the second qualifying round draw and would therefore be seeded again.

Why are West Ham United seeded?

Teams are ranked according to their coefficient and further split into seeding groups prior to the draw. England are currently second in the UEFA team ranking table behind Spain, with a lowest possible coefficient value of 16.078 points for any English team participating in European competition.

With no UEFA coefficient points of their own, West Ham have been given this coefficient value in the first qualifying round draw, making the Hammers the highest seeded team in the hat. Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol (14.500) are seeded second, with Norwegian league runners-up Rosenborg BK (11.875) third.

The 52 clubs with the highest coefficient value are seeded, with the other 52 unseeded. Gibraltar Premier Cup winners College Europa (0.300) have the lowest coefficient of the 104 clubs in the first qualifying round draw.

Who could West Ham United draw in the first qualifying round?

As the top seeds, West Ham cannot face any of the other 51 seeded teams in the first qualifying round draw, meaning they will avoid Slaven Bilic's old club Hajduk Split of Croatia and recognisable names such as Rosenborg, Serbians Red Star Belgrade, Scottish sides St Johnstone and Aberdeen and Georgian outfit Dinamo Tbilisi – who defeated the Hammers in the European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals 34 years ago.

Of the unseeded clubs in the draw, who could potentially provide opposition for West Ham on 2 July, Cukaricki Belgrade, who finished third in the Serbian Superliga last season, have the highest coefficient value (3.275). Latvians Skonto Riga (3.100), Norwegian club Odds BK (2.875), Hungarian side MTK Budapest (2.450) and League of Ireland challengers Cork City (1.150) are names which might be familiar to West Ham fans.

The Hammers have faced just one of the unseeded clubs previously in competitive football. FC Lahti finished third in the Finnish Veikkausluga, and were known by their former guise of Lahden Reipas when West Ham beat them 5-2 on aggregate in the European Cup Winners' Cup first round in 1975/76.

For those among the Claret and Blue Army who want to collect some air miles while following their heroes, the longest potential trip is to Kazakhstan Cup winners Kairat, based in the city of Almaty a mammoth 3,482 miles from the Boleyn Ground. Compatriots Ordabasy finished fourth in the Kazakhstan Premier League and are based just a tad closer at 3,211 miles from east London.

If you fancy a bit of sun on your back, Balzan FC finished fourth in the Maltese Premier League and are likely to be unseeded, as are the the aforementioned Gibraltan Cup College Europa winners. Unfortunately, Cypriot clubs Apollon Limassol and Omonia Nicosia are both seeded!

Closer to home, the shortest potential trip West Ham could make is likely to be to Welsh Premier League side Newtown, who qualified through a play-off and are based in the Powys town just 208 miles from the Boleyn Ground. Fellow Welsh sides Airbus UK Broughton (214 miles) and Bala Town (221 miles) will also represent Wales in the 2015/16 competition.

Northern Irish clubs Glentoran and Glenavon are also expected to be among the unseeded clubs in the draw, as are representatives from Albania, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro and San Marino, among others.

Whoever West Ham are drawn to face, the Claret and Blue Army are sure to enthusiastically follow their team over land and, providing we do not draw any of the three Welsh sides in the hat, sea. Roll on 22 June!

How do I find out more information?

UEFA have kindly listed all of the qualified teams on their website here.

For more facts and figures about the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League, including how West Ham United could help London match Madrid and Seville's record for the number of tournament wins achieved by clubs from a single city, click here.

British teams to learn Champions League and Europa League fate

Celtic and West Ham United are among the British clubs who will learn their Champions League and Europa League qualifying round opponents on Monday. The draws for the first two rounds of each will be made in Nyon, with the Scottish champions included at the second stage of the senior competition. Northern Ireland's Crusaders and Wales' The New Saints are in the first round. West Ham are seeded in the first round of Europa League having qualified courtesy of their Fair Play record. First-time Scottish Cup winners Inverness Caledonian Thistle make their debut in European competition in the second round. Aberdeen and St Johnstone, who finished either side of Caley Thistle in the Scottish Premiership, are in the first-round draw. Potential opponents are Northern Ireland's Linfield, Glenavon and cup winners Glentoran - and Welsh trio Bala Town, Airbus UK Broughton and Newtown. University College Dublin, the latter being another Fair Play entrant.
Southampton are one of the clubs who will join the winners in the third qualifying round draw on 17 July, while English Premier League rivals Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur qualified directly for the group stage. Manchester United are in the play-off round of the Champions League, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City already in the group stage of that competition. Dundalk of the Republic of Ireland are in a second qualifying round draw in which Celtic are the second-best ranked club behind Steaua Bucharest of Romania.
The Champions League first qualifying round first leg takes place on 30 June/1 July, with the Europa League starting on 2 July, and the second legs a week later. The second qualifying round of the Champions League is on 14/15 July, with the Europa League on 16 July.
The Champions League final is on 28 May at the San Siro in Milan, while the Europa League finale is on 18 May at St Jakob-Park, Basel.

By Iain Dale 21 Jun 2015 at 17:11 132 comments
Guest Post by HotMort
West Ham till I Die

Why don't we use 2015/15 to let bygones be bygones?

Let's give a big welcome back to all the old Hammers that have played with or managed West Ham over the past 75 years.

I know that many of them are no longer with us, but let's ask the club to offer invitations to all and sundry that are still around, and are willing to come, and let us fans make sure we give each and every one of them a big thank you cheer for their efforts while they played for us. Yes I am referring not only to people like Martin Peters, Sir Trevor Brooking, Geoff Hurst, Carlos Tevez, Paulo Di Canio and Dean Ashton and many more favourites like them, but let's also include those who fell out of favour for various reasons, some perhaps more justified than others, the likes of Frank Lampard, Paul Ince, and particularly Harry Rednap. Let us not exclude anyone. Let's show them all a real West Ham welcome and a big thank you for the efforts that they all put in to entertain us at Upton Park over the past 75 years.

West Ham eye transfer of Zdravko Kuzmanovic from Inter Milan
22:30, 21 JUNE 2015
The Hammers hope to land 27-year-old midfielder who has been capped 50 times by Serbia on loan from the Italian giants PLUS: Dmitri Payet latest
The Mirror

West Ham are considering an audacious loan move for Inter Milan midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic. The 27-year-old has been capped 50 times by Serbia, but is understood to be among a number of players at the rebuilding Italian giants up for grabs this summer. A successful move for Kuzmanovic would be a coup for the Hammers, who have already signalled their intention to back new boss Slaven Bilic in a season that will end with their prestige move to the Olympic Stadium The East London club already have a bid of £14million on the table for Marseille winger Dmitri Payet, who would become their second biggest signing ever behind Andy Carroll. They also offered a huge deal to free agent Ghana forward Andre Ayew - which included a £2m signing on fee - before they were gazumped by Swansea, who came in with an even bigger offer. There are concerns at Upton Park over the amount of money being demanded for Payet. But the France international had the highest number of assists in the French League last season and is very versatile - able to play out wide or centrally. West Ham start pre-season training on Monday, when they also find out who they have been drawn against in the first qualifying round of the Europa League - which begins on July 2.

Charlie Austin transfer: Crystal Palace refusing to pay £15m for the QPR striker
18:08, 21 JUNE 2015
Alan Pardew is in for front-man also being linked with West Ham, Newcastle and Liverpool but Selhurst Park money-men won't meet his current asking price
The mirror

Crystal Palace's board are ready to put the block on Alan Pardew's move for Charlie Austin. Eagles boss Pardew wants QPR striker Austin and is prepared to scrap it out with Liverpool, Newcastle and West Ham for his signature. Rangers have slapped a £15m price-tag on their star man. However, the Selhurst Park club's money-men believe that valuation is too high, leaving Pardew facing frustration in his attempts to bring Austin south of the river. Relegated QPR won't budge on their asking price for Austin, with plenty of interest in their star man and on the back of his brilliant debut Premier League campaign. Austin bagged 18 goals in a struggling side to force his way into Roy Hodgson's England squad and almost certainly earn himself a big-money move this summer. But Palace will have to drop out of the race and look elsewhere unless the top brass change their present stance.

West Ham facing TWO Europa League trips to Kazakhstan totalling over 13,000 miles in ONE week
17:27, 21 JUNE 2015
Worst possible result for first and second qualifying round draws would send Hammers to Almaty for July 9 second leg and to Shymkent for next stage's opener
The Mirror

West Ham face the nightmare scenario of two trips to Borat's glorious homeland in Kazakhstan before the start of the Premier League when the draw for Europa League qualifying is made on Monday.

New manager Slaven Bilic's Hammers will need to play TWENTY-THREE matches to win the trophy in Switzerland next May, including six qualifying matches before their domestic season even starts at Arsenal on the second weekend in August.

Former Irons boss Sam Allardyce quickly regretted taking his squad halfway round the world to New Zealand last summer, where the Hammers suffered two embarrassing defeats and an injury that knocked striker Andy Carroll out until November.

But after qualifying for the Europa League next season via the Fair Play table, the East London club could rack up nearly as many air miles as on that trip Down Under if they get a bad draw.

West Ham are the top-seeded club and can face any of the 51 unseeded clubs from across continental Europe — and beyond.

InstagramAndy Carroll with James CollinsBad trip: Hammer's New Zealand tour saw Andy Carroll (left) suffer another injury
The worst draw would be to play Kazakhstan Cup winners Kairat, who are based in the city of Almaty - 3,482 miles from the Boleyn Ground.

And they would have to be very unlucky to then get the other team from comedy character Borat's homeland, Ordabasy, in the second qualifying round.

Although, they are from Shymkent, which is 'only' 3,211 miles away. Niiiiice.

Trips to Latvia, Lithuania, Gibraltar, Armenia and Georgia are also on offer.

Better for West Ham players and their fans would be facing Welsh Premier League side Newtown (208 miles away) or fellow Welsh sides Airbus UK Broughton (214 miles) and Bala Town (221 miles).

More clubs and destinations are entered in the draw for each successive round (see below).

West Ham also return to training on Monday, though Bilic is set to use Under-21 and fringe senior players in the opening Europa games.

Paul GilhamThey fly so high... Where will Monday's draw send Sam Allardyce's former players?
New midfield signing Pedro Obiang, who will meet his new team-mates on Monday after his move from Italians Sampdoria, said: "I'll be keeping a close eye on the Europa League draw.

"I came here to try to achieve big things with this Club and the UEFA Europa League is the first chance to do just that."

Ex-Birmingham keeper Darren Randolph and former Manchester City midfielder Martin Samuelson, 18, have already been signed.

West Ham have also made an improved £14m offer for Marseille forward Dimitri Payet, and there is also interest in QPR striker Charlie Austin.

But speaking to the club's official website, Bilic said: "We will not rush, just for the sake of buying. We have to be very, very clever with that.

"We can't afford to buy players just for the sake of buying. But we're going to try and be active - but only if those players are better than the ones we already have."

West Ham fans! At what stage will you start paying attention to your Europa League campaign?

West Ham will have to play TWENTY-THREE Europa League matches between July 2 and May 18 to lift the trophy.

A total of 48 teams will contest the groups stages from September. Sixteen of those are automatic qualifiers, including Liverpool and Tottenham, and 10 teams will join the competiton from the Champions League after failing to get through that competition's qualifiers. The remaining 22 will come from the Europa's qualifying process - which starts on July 2.

Southampton enter at the third-round qualifying stage, the first legs of which are to played on July 30.

Martin RoseFC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v FC SevillaWho's next? West Ham have a long road to succeed Sevilla as Europa League winners

First qualifying round July 2 and 9 (starts with 102 clubs, including West Ham).

Second qualifying round July 16 and 23 (the 51 first-round winners, plus 15 more clubs).

Third qualifying round July 30 and August 6 (the 33 second-round winners, plus 25 more clubs, including Southampton).

Playoffs August 20 and 27 (the 29 third-round winners, plus 15 Champions League playoff losers).

Group stages Six matches between September 17 and December 10.

Round of 32 February 18 and 25.

Round of 16 March 10 and 17.

Quarter-finals April 7 and 14.

Semi-finals April 18 and May 5.

Final May 18, at St Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland.

Dimitri Payet update
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

Football agent Muzzi Ozcan has entered the debate again about Dimitri Payet by commenting further on social media.

"Payet would move to West Ham … It's all down to two clubs agreeing Good Night" said Muzzi

He then added "Don't worry I am not hacked this time ….. So which West Ham fan is going to write Muzzi Ozcan on there shirt ?"

The security advisor to FA who also claimed to be a player advisor/broker announced the player had signed for West Ham earlier this week before quickly deleting his tweet and claiming his twitter account had been hacked.

Meanwhile the highly connected Jason Burt has claimed in the Sunday Telegraph that West Ham has tabled an improved £14m bid for the highly rated play maker.

Burt told his readers "West Ham United have bid £14 million for French international Dimitri Payet in a significant statement of intent from the club. An offer of £12 million has already been rejected by Payet's club Marseille but West Ham remain determined to sign the 28-year-old winger and on Saturday submitted an improved proposal. Payet has earned nine full caps for France and, although West Ham are concerned at paying such a high fee for a player his age, they do want to push through the deal.

"Payet, who achieved the most number of assists in the French league last season, joined Marseille from Lille in 2013 for around €11 million (£7.9  million) and has previously played for Saint-Etienne – during which time he was strongly linked with a move to Chelsea – having started his career with Nantes.

Hammers admit making "incredible offer"
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

Slaven Bilic and West Ham's board won't budge from their top priority transfer market position when they meet tomorrow (Mon) and will "move heaven and earth" to bring in Dimitri Payet and Carl Jenkinson to the club. The three men have already agreed over long distance calls that the priorities are a creative midfielder, the right back and Alex Song as their first choice as the defensive midfielder.
Slav has made it clear the team needs a top quality creative midfielder in Payet-680x453Payet and is very keen for the Irons negotiating team to bring Jenks back to the club on loan. And that means a move for Charlie Austin is unlikely having been described to us as "not a priority at this stage of proceedings."

Although admitting to ClaretandHugh earlier this afternoon that the Payet deal is still some way off, we have been told in the last few minutes that "an incredible offer had been made for the player." Our source said: "It is not the £14 million mentioned in some media today but it is an incredible offer. The player wants to Songscome here. "Once we hopefully get that done we can look at getting the Jenkinson and Song moves settled- these are the agreed priorities between us." Questioned directly on the alleged interest in Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin we were told: "It's not realistic at this stage. There are several other positions we need to cover more urgently."

Midfielder signing: "There's still some way to go."
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham United are this afternoon insisting that there remains "some way to go" on negotiations to bring Dimitri Payet to Upton Park.

Speculation that a deal is close and even that the Irons have upped their bid to £14 million for the midfield playmaker have been circulating throughout the day.
But a key ClaretandHugh insider explained a few minutes ago: "We have made it clear in the past few days that despite some difficulties – as is usually the case in these deals – we remain keen on the player.
"However, we have several other options because it's not straightforward and currently the player remains away in Mauritius.
"As for the fee, we believed £12 million for a 28 year old was too much at the outset although it would not be helpful to get into figures while talks continue. However, this is a player we really do like."

Kara deal hits work permit snag
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

According to the Sun on Sunday, West Ham's bid for Senegalese centre half Kara Mbodj has hit a work permit snag. The tabloid claims that although the Hammers are prepared to pay Genk £4m for the defender, the 25 year old can not get a work permit until August.

FA rules mean only players from the top 50 ranked nations are eligible for a work permit. Although Senegal are currently rated 36th in the world by FIFA but outside the top 50 using the FA's two year average. That will change in a couple of months but West Ham may look elsewhere.

Slav: "We have to be very, very clever"
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

Slaven Bilic has given his transfer market thinking ahead of what promises to be an intriguing summer.

And despite the urgency which some believe surrounds new arrivals, the new manager is refusing to get involved in frenzied thinking or activity.

Speaking to the official website Bilic said: "We will not rush just for the sake of buying. We have to be very, very clever with that. We can't afford to buy players just for the sake of buying.

"But we're going to try and be active, but only if those players are better than the ones we already have."

Pedro Obiang has already arrived along with back-up keeper Darren Randolph on a free transfer from Birmingham and youngster Martin Samuelson from Manchester City.

The club – as is always the case – have been linked with numerous target seem focused on acquisitions to beef up a midfield area that lacks pace and creativity with the likes of captain Kevin Nolan expected to move on after four years of great service.

Irons linked with Inter midfielder
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

According to reports in Italy Inter midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic is wanted by West Ham.

Inter are open to selling players to help finance a spending spree which has seen an agreement reached with Monaco over Geoffrey Kondogbia.Kuzmanovic is said to be available for the right price.

Italian daily, Gazzetta dello Sport, says Kuzmanovic will have no end of potential destinations if he does move.

The 27-year-old is said to have interest from bothWest Ham and Watford, while in the Bundesliga, Schalke, Werder Bremen and Borussia Monchengladbach are also keen. Kuzmanovic played in Germany before moving to Inter in 2013. Kuzmanovic is a Serbian international despite being born in Switzerland and started his senior career with FC Basel. He joined Fiorentina in 2007, before then heading to Germany with Stuttgart.

Jenkinson wants Hammers return
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham fan and Talksport presenter Ian Abrahams caught up with Carl Jenkinson yesterday at the England U21 training camp ahead of their match against Sweden tonight at 5pm in European U21 Championships.

According to the Moose, Jenks has told Abrahams that "He loved last year at Upton Park & wants to come back"

ESPN claim that Arsenal are ready to hand Carl Jenkinson a new contract extension before sending him out on loan again. The 23-year-old has found his path blocked into the Arsenal first team by the arrivals of Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers last summer. Jenkinson's current contract is due to expire in 2018.

Sunderland are thought to have agreed a loan fee with Arsenal but the player prefers to stay in the capital with West Ham his first choice. Southampton are also thought to be interested in signing the right back on loan.

Sullivan jnr may have dropped Austin hint
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 21, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham may be left to slug it out with Chelsea for £15 million rated Charlie Austin as rumours grow that the Queens Park Rangers striker wants to stay in London.

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is a big admirer but is trying to find out whether the 25 year old is open for a move to the north east.

Austin himself threw a shadow over those hopes when, after being linked to a move to Tyneside, tweeted: 'Honestly where do people get this stuff from'.

However, West Ham United and Chelsea are also keeping an eye on Berkshire-born Austin who was named in Roy Hodgson's last England squad.

Austin interests Chelsea and the speculation linking us with last season's 18 goal hitman increased when bookies suspended the betting on him signing an Upton Park deal.

And that may well have been helped by David Sullivan's son Jack writing in his column on the official site: " We could buy someone for £15m but it has to be right for the football club."

However, Jose Mourinho is looking for a reliable forward to understudy Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge following the departure of Didier Drogba. Loic Remy and Patrick Bamford are the other senior forwards on the club's books.

West Ham return to training early as they prepare for Europa League qualifiers
The Independent
JAMES MARINER Author Biography Sunday 21 June 2015

West Ham United will return to pre-season training earlier than every other Premier League side on Monday as they prepare to discover their opponents for next week's Europa League first qualifying round. The London side qualified for the competition through last season's Fair Play Table and are seeded in the lunchtime draw for what will be Slaven Bilic's first game in charge after succeeding Sam Allardyce for the club's final season at Upton Park. The opening leg of the Hammers' first European campaign in nine years will take place on 2 July, with the return taking place seven days later. Their seeding will keep them from being drawn with Bilic's former side Hadjuk Split, as well as Rosenborg, Dinamo Tbilsi and Red Star Belgrade. Potential opponents for West Ham include Cukaricki Belgrade, Odds BK, College Europa, of Gibraltar, Irish side Cork City, Welsh outfits Newtown, Bala Town and Airbus UK Broughton, along with FC Lahti.

The longest potential trip for Hammers fans would be to Kairat, based almost 3,500 miles away in Kazakhstan, with compatriots Ordabasy marginally closer to east London. The club's last European campaign lasted just two matches, losing 4-0 on aggregate to Italian side Palermo in September 2006 in the first round of what was then the Uefa Cup. Their last victory on the continent came in September 1999, a 3-1 Uefa Cup win away to Croatian side Osijek – goals coming from Paul Kitson, Neil Ruddock and Marc-Vivien Foe.

Scottish Premiership sides Aberdeen and St Johnstone are also included in the draw, during which the pairings for the second qualifying rounds, to be played later next month, will also be determined. Southampton enter the competition at the third qualifying stage at the end of July, while Liverpool and Tottenham both go straight into August's draw for the group stages, which run from September to December. This season's final takes place in Basel, Switzerland, next May. The holders are Seville, who last month beat Dnipro for a fourth title in the last decade.

Alex Song latest: Chelsea and Manchester City join West Ham in race to sign Barcelona man
The Independent

West Ham are poised to sign Barcelona midfielder Alex Song but could face some tough competition from Chelsea and Manchester City.
The Hammers wish to buy the former Arsenal player on a free transfer in exchange of taking his entire £70,000-a-week wages in a three-year contract. The Cameroonian is valued at around £5million and still has two more years left with Barca, who might have to pay a share of his current salary if no club is willing to take it on. The 27-year-old has also turned heads at Chelsea and Manchester City, especially due to his status as a home-grown player, but it is not yet certain if any of them are willing to pay any fees. Song moved to Upton Park last summer on a loan deal and was magnificent during the first half of the season - he also featured as the Hammers' captain on a few occassions. Reports suggest that he has also received offers from Italy but he prefers to stay in London, with new manager Slaven Bilic attempting to convince him to join permanently. West Ham are also looking to sign Marseille winger Dimitri Payet, who produced the most assists of last season's Ligue 1, and are also waiting for the Under-21 European Championship to end to find out if Carl Jenkinson will be returning to Sunderland.

West Ham confident improved £14m bid will lure Marseille's Dimitri Payet
The Guardian
Dominic Fifield
Sunday 21 June 2015 14.11 BST Last modified on Sunday 21 June 2015 20.35 BST

West Ham United are confident their improved offer for Dimitri Payet will force through the transfer of the Marseille forward. The player is understood to be keen to leave the Stade Vélodrome for a new challenge in the Premier League.

The club's second offer amounts to around £14m for a player capped 15 times by France; an initial bid nearer £12m was rejected. The French club's squad are undergoing something of a revamp after failing to qualify for next season's Champions League; this failure prompted an automatic wage drop for players with Payet, 28, due to lose around £12,000 a week.

André Ayew and André-Pierre Gignac have left for Swansea and the Mexican club Tigres respectively under freedom of contract while the midfielder Giannelli Imbula is attracting interest from Italy. The Marseille coach, Marcelo Bielsa, had hoped Payet's deal would be renegotiated but the temptation of a move to England – after Everton had previously shown interest – is believed to have turned his head.

A four-year contract has been offered with terms of around £70,000 a week. Payet can operate across the front line as well as in a No10 role and contributed the most assists in Ligue 1 last season. He would join the Spain Under-21 international Pedro Obiang, who moved from Sampdoria to Upton Park for £4.6m. The West Ham board is anxious to demonstrate ambition to the new manager, Slaven Bilic, before the club's final season at the Boleyn Ground.

The need to reinforce is increased by West Ham competing in the Europa League, via the fair play rule. The draw for the first qualifying round takes place todayon Monday and their competitive season will begin on 2 July. Interest is retained in Barcelona's Alex Song, who spent last season on loan at West Ham. The Catalan club are seeking around £5m for the midfielder, who was impressive over the first half of last season, though there is a reluctance to meet that fee.

Meanwhile the Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbiathe Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia is set to disappoint clubs in the Premier League and sign a five-year contract at Internazionale after the clubs agreed a fee of £22m for the France international.

Both Arsenal, against whom he excelled in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 fixture last season, and Tottenham Hotspur have tracked the 22-year-old's progress but the only firm bids were submitted by Inter and their rivals, Milan. Kondogbia, a France international, is due to undertake a medical on Monday today before completing his move.


This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.

No comments: