Thursday, August 25

Daily WHUFC News - II 25th August 2016

Opposition View - Astra Giurgiu

Astra Giurgiu manager Marius Sumudica says his side have come to London to attack ahead of Thursday's UEFA Europa League play-off round second-leg tie with West Ham United. The Romanian champions need to score if they are to progress to the group stage, after the first leg finished 1-1, and the enigmatic Sumudica is not one to go on the defensive. Speaking exclusively to, the Astra boss also paid tribute to the strength in depth of their opponents ahead of another exciting match at London Stadium.

Marius, last year you brought Astra Giurgiu to the Boleyn Ground and this season you bring your team to London Stadium, so are you relishing the experience?

"It's a bit of a strange feeling when you train in an empty stadium, as we did on Wednesday evening, but on Thursday it will be a very hot atmosphere!

"We know how it was at the Boleyn Ground with the fans standing behind their team and pushing them, so we expect the same here, but we are ready and well-prepared.

"We have a good team, with experienced players, most of whom are around 30-years-old and well prepared to take their chance again this year."

You obviously beat West Ham a year ago. Will that have any effect this time around?

"Obviously it helps that we're unbeaten in three games against West Ham, but on Thursday they will be the favourites playing on home soil with all their fans behind them.

"They have a great manager in Slaven Bilic and a great team, but we will try our best to win."

Are there any West Ham players you are particularly wary of?

"There is no one particular player who I would mention, because every player in West Ham's squad has the value and the worth to make a big difference here.

"We have to concentrate to neutralise their entire eleven, rather than concentrating on only one particular player. That's what we're aiming to do."

How will you approach the game, knowing you need to score after it finished 1-1 in Romania?

"We know we will not qualify if it finishes 0-0 on the night, so we're here to attack. We can't come to defend because we have to score.

"We also know that we need to keep a clean sheet if possible, so if we then score a goal we will progress, but it's very difficult not to concede a goal here at West Ham."

Samuelsen joins Blackburn on loan

Martin Samuelsen has joined Blackburn Rovers on a season-long loan
The winger signed a new four-year deal with the Hammers this week
He joins West Ham teammate Stephen Hendrie in Lancashire

West Ham United winger Martin Samuelsen has joined Sky Bet Championship side Blackburn Rovers on a season-long loan. The 19-year-old, who this week signed a new four-year contract with the Club, will link up with fellow Hammer Stephen Hendrie, who is also on loan at Ewood Park, for the 2016/17 campaign. Having joined the east Londoners in June 2015, Samuelsen made his first team debut within a month, playing in both legs of the side's UEFA Europa League second qualifying round tie against Maltese outfit Birkirkara. Last Novemeber, after impressing for the Hammers' Development Squad, Samuelsen joined League One side Peterborough United, and went on to make 20 appearances for Posh in league and cup. He scored once for Peterborough; his side's third in a 3-2 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Earlier this summer, Samuelsen made his first senior international appearance for Norway, turning out in the nation's 3-2 friendly victory over Iceland. Blackburn are looking to bolster their squad after enduring a difficult start to the campaign under new boss Owen Coyle, and Samuelsen will hope to make an instant impact in Lancashire. The club have strong traditions of signing Norwegian players, and Lars Bohinen, Henning Berg, Martin Andresen, Stig Inge Bjornebye, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Egil Ostenstad and, more recently, Joshua King have all gone before their newest recruit. West Ham will have the option to recall Samuelsen – who is eligible to play in the EFL Cup for Rovers – in January if they wish to do so.

Hammers will play Accrington Stanley

West Ham United will face League Two side Accrington Stanley in the third round of the EFL Cup. The Hammers have been drawn at home and the tie will be played week commencing 19 September 2016. Accrington Stanley caused one of the big upsets of the second round against Premier League opposition when Matty Pearson scored a last minute extra-time winner against Burnley. Having been knocked out of the Capital One Cup in the third round by Leicester City last season, Slaven Bilic will be keen to see his side progress to the latter stages of the competition.

Full fixture details and ticket prices will be announced in due course.

Noble - We have a special team spirit

West Ham United captain Mark Noble has nothing but praise for the special team spirit that has been created throughout the squad and hopes it will help them qualify for the group stages of the UEFA Europa League. Despite missing a number of key players through injury, Slaven Bilic's side still managed to come away with a memorable victory over Bournemouth in the first ever Premier League game to be played at the new Stadium. Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Aaron Cresswell and Club record signing Andre Ayew have all been forced to miss the start of the season through injury while Andy Carroll has also been ruled out for four to six weeks with a knee injury. But the players who came into the side showed once again the fighting spirit that saw the Hammers enjoy one of their best ever seasons last year and secure their first Premier League victory of the season. After making the long journey back from Romania just 48 hours before the game, Noble feels the players will only grow stronger as the season progresses and predicts big things for the Club in both domestic and European competition. Noble said: "When you miss seven of your best players it starts to hurt you but I thought against Bournemouth the lads were fantastic. "When you lose good players like Payet, Lanzini, Cresswell, Carroll and the lads can still pull off a victory like that, it makes it even more special. "In this league you are not just going to roll over teams. We hardly did that last season and it was some of the best football we have played for a long time. 1-0 is the greatest win in football and you keep a clean sheet. We scored a late goal and the fans are buzzing. We probably deserved it in the end. "We made a couple of mistakes last season against them and they punished us. We have had a few players back in the team who have not played a lot, like Gokhan Tore, Sam Byram and we still got the victory. "I loved being out there and it was really enjoyable. It is different because we got back late Friday morning from the Europa League tie but when you are playing a team who have rested all week, it makes the victory even more special and we have a great team spirit. "We have this fantastic new Stadium but we needed to get points on the board, otherwise you could be in trouble. We can now go to Manchester City with confidence."

Noble is hoping new signing Jonathan Calleri can get off the mark sooner rather than later and can already see the quality that he is bringing to the squad. The Argentine forward had a header cleared off the line against Astra Giurgiu in the first leg last week and almost netted his first Premier League goal last Sunday when he burst clear of the Bournemouth defence and fired his shot inches past the post. Noble added: "I was gutted that Jonathan could not make it 2-0 right at the end. I have watched YouTube videos of him scoring goals and he is a good finisher. I have also seen that in training. "Coming to a new country it would have been nice for him to get off the mark in the Premier League but I am pretty sure he will score goals for us."

Enner stays, Zaza set for loan move
Filed: Thursday, 25th August 2016
By: Staff Writer

An audacious bid by Championship side Aston Villa to land out-of-favour Enner Valencia has failed - for now. Following reports by Villa Chairman Dr Tony Xia that he was in the process of signing a 'world class striker', rumours have been rife that Valencia could be the player in question (although it's likely few Hammers fans would agree). And the Telegraph's Jason Burt claimed tonight that the Hammers had indeed rejected an approach by Villa, as United will not allow the Ecuador international to leave until a replacement has been found. That replacement has been strongly tipped to be either Manchester City's Wilfried Bony or Juve's Italian international Simone Zaza, who famously fluffed his lines from the penalty spot at Euro 16. And overnight David Amoyal - writing for - reported that West Ham have launched a bid for the 25-year-olf Italian, who is being allowed to leave Juve.

West Ham are said to have offered to take Zaza on loan for the season with an obligation to make the deal permanent at the end of the 2016/17 campaign, with the fee set at €28million. Links with Wolfsburg and Napoli have previously failed to beat fruit and Zaza is said to be willing to try his luck in the Premier League. Manager Slaven Bilic - who is said by Amoral to have spoken with Zaza yesterday - is believed to prefer Zaza, although Bony is a long-term favourite of co-owner David Sullivan who is leading the club's summer recruitment programme.

Simone Zaza may be on way to West Ham 'on Thursday night'
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 25/08/16 11:40am

Juventus striker Simone Zaza could be on his way to West Ham as early as Thursday night, according to Sky in Italy. Hammers boss Slaven Bilic confirmed on Wednesday that he is interested in signing the Italy international as well as Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony. Sky in Italy are reporting that the deal will be initially on loan, but West Ham can then buy him permanently for £24m. Bilic is desperately trying to bolster his strikeforce before the transfer window slams shut next week as Andre Ayew, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho are all currently sidelined through injury. Zaza's father has claimed his son has a "concrete offer" from the east London club. When asked about the duo, the West Ham manager said: "We have a couple of players we are trying to do a deal with. We have injuries and we are short of numbers. "In terms of signings, if something good quality-wise comes up, we are going to act.
"We were linked with [Zaza] last year and he is a top player. We were in contact with him last year and will see what happens."

West Ham transfer news: £5m Pedro Obiang chased by AC Milan, Fiorentina and Torino
Evening Standard

Pedro Obiang could be on his way back to Serie A, with three Italian clubs interested in the West Ham midfielder. The former Spain Under-21 international joined from Sampdoria last summer but is not central to Slaven Bilic's plans. Obiang is open to a return to Italy and AC Milan, Fiorentina and Torino are all keeping an eye on the situation. Milan manager Vincenzo Montella is keen but general director Adriano Galliani has indicated that the club are interested in a loan deal, while West Ham are looking for a permanent move and value Obiang at £5m. Fiorentina were the first club to express an interest and director of football of Fiorentina Carlos Freitas said: "Everyone knows that we need a midfielder. We are working to buy one as soon as possible". Torino boss Sinisa Mihajlovic knows Obiang from their time at Sampdoria and believes the 24-year-old is suited to his team's game.

West Ham transfer news: Hammers closing in on £25m deal for Simone Zaza but Juventus striker could initially arrive on loan
Evening Standard

West Ham are edging closer to a £25million deal to sign Simone Zaza although the Juventus striker could initially arrive on loan. Manager Slaven Bilic is desperate to bring in a front man following the long-term injury to £20million new signing Andre Ayew and has been tracking Zaza for some time. Manchester City's Wilfried Bony and Chelsea striker Loic Remy have also been mentioned as possible signings. However, Bilic's No1 choice is Zaza, who is keen to come to London and negotiations with West Ham are already advanced. It is understood that the Italy international will join initially on loan but the move will become permanent after he plays a specified number of matches, with a five-year deal rising to £25m and the player earning around £3m a year. Zaza has already scored at the London Stadium when he came on as a second-half substitute in the pre-season friendly against the Hammers. The 25-year-old recently rejected an opportunity to move to German Bundesliga club. Napoli have also expressed an interest in Zaza but Juventus are reluctant to sell the player to their Serie A rivals.
"We were linked with him last year also," said Bilic. "He's a top player and I like him. We were in contact with him last year, it didn't happen but we will see this year. "We will do something if we can in the next few days but only if it makes our squad stronger." Meanwhile, Aston Villa have failed with a move for striker Enner Valencia. The Hammers are searching for a striker themselves and will not let Sakho, who they value at £12million, leave until they have found a replacement.

David Gold hails West Ham winger Michail Antonio as 'the most exciting player in English football'
By Alex Varney - @lexvarney
Thursday, August 25, 2016

David Gold has tipped Michail Antonio to force his way into the England squad, hailing the West Ham winger as 'the most exciting player in English football'. Antonio has been a big hit at Upton Park since moving from Nottingham Forest 12 months ago. Gold believes it is now only a matter of time before the 26-year-old, who also been used as a full-back boss Slaven Bilic, gets a chance to prove his worth at international level. In an exclusive interview with talkSPORT, the West Ham co-owner said: "One player I really think will emerge in due course is Antonio. I think he is a special player. "He has been playing at right-back, He hates playing there but he plays for the team and for the manager. He has now been pushed back into an attacking wide role and there is nobody in English football that is more exciting than Michail Antonio."

West Ham vs Astra Giurgiu: Slaven Bilic wary of Denis Alibec threat as Hammers eye group stage spot
Evening Standard

Slaven Bilic believes Romanian striker Denis Alibec is the man West Ham must watch out for as they attempt to reach the group stages of the Europa League. West Ham led 1-0 against Astra Giurgiu in the first leg a week ago until Alibec, who has been out injured since representing his country in the Euros, came on in the second half to score a late equaliser. The 25-year-old was also a second-half substitute at the weekend when he came on in the 68th minute as Astra lost 5-1 to CFR Cluj in a Romanian league match. And although Alibec could start on the bench again tonight, Bilic is wary of the threat he carries. "He has been out since the Euros," said Bilic. "His first game back was against us and he made a difference. "He is their best player and I would expect him to play tonight. Astra are the Romanian league champions and you have to respect that because any league is hard to win."

Dimitri Payet could be a substitute for West Ham after missing Sunday's Premier League win over Bournemouth while Manuel Lanzini may also soon be involved, if not tonight then at Manchester City on Sunday. "We will put out the strongest possible side because for us the game is top priority and we want to qualify," said Bilic. "We are just one game from the group stages and we are not thinking about the Manchester City game and resting players but we have to see who will be available."

Left-back Arthur Masuaku is cup-tied so youngster Reece Burke looks likely to come in, with Sam Byram keeping his place at right-back. The Newham-born 19-year-old was a big success on loan at Bradford City last season and is keen to go out on loan again if he is not playing regularly. Argentine striker Jonathan Calleri is likely to start, as is Italy centre-half Angelo Ogbonna. "We were not totally happy with our performance in the first leg but we still came away with a 1-1 draw," said Bilic. "We should be confident and I expect us to win."

Unsettled striker Diafra Sakho is again missing due to a back injury and Bilic said: "He is working hard in the gym and hopefully he will be back soon on the pitch. He was meant to be going to West Brom but he didn't pass the medical. He is our player and I can't see him leaving now because he's not training on the pitch. "It did affect his mind at the time because he was meant to go but then he failed the medical but he is still a young player with a good future. With his quality he is going to have offers."

Also missing is Andy Carroll, who injured his knee in last week's first leg and is out for at least a month. "Andy knows how much I rate him and love him as a player and a person," said Bilic. "But it's very hard for a manager and his staff when you're really counting on someone because he's someone you trust and he brings you quality in every game — and then suddenly he is out. "I'm never going to give up on Andy and I like to stick with the players who are giving me everything."


According to Ecuadorian journalist Roberto Bonafont, Aston Villa are ready to pay $20m (£15m) to sign wantaway West Ham striker Enner Valencia. The Telegraph report that the Midlands side launched a bid for Valencia only for it to be quickly rejected with Slaven Bilic keen to add strikers before letting others leave. It is said that Bilic is keen to bring Wilfried Bony to East London on loan until January with Juventus striker Simone Zaza also being considered. Valencia has scored just 10 goals in 61 appearances for West Ham since his 2014 arrival, and perhaps a move would be best for all involved. With the Ecuadorian striker giving his consent to a move to Turkey, it's now up to Galatasaray to agree a fee for the striker.

It has been no secret that Valencia has been eager to secure a move away from East London this summer following two less than successful seasons with the club following his £12m move from Pachuca. For a long time a move to Lazio was on the cards with Valencia already agreeing to the move but West Ham struggled to agree a deal with the Serie A side, with Lazio favouring a loan deal and the Hammers eyeing a permanent sale. Valencia is likely to leave the club in order to help push through deals for other strikers.

Slaven Bilic: 'I don't want to have to drag players to West Ham'

Slaven Bilic looks ahead to West Ham's Europa League third qualifying round second leg against Romanian side Astra Giurgiu. West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic insists he will not beg players to join the club ahead of next week's transfer deadline. It is no secret that the Hammers are still searching for a striker to add to their ranks before the transfer window closes on Aug. 31. Bilic said on Wednesday that he sees Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony as an option while he also refused to rule out a bid for Juventus forward Simone Zaza.
West Ham have already broken their transfer record by bringing in Andre Ayew from Swansea, but he has been ruled out for up to four months with a thigh injury suffered on his debut.
Fellow forwards Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho are also absent for Thursday's crunch Europa League playoff clash against Astra Giurgiu at the London Stadium, with a place in Friday's group-stage draw still in the balance following the 1-1 draw in Romania last week.
A whole host of other names have been linked with the club, with the likes of Michy Batshuayi -- now of Chelsea, Alexandre Lacazette and Carlos Bacca, with all three starting the season in fine goalscoring form. Columbia international Bacca scored a hat trick in AC Milan's 3-2 Serie A win over Torino at the weekend and Bilic admits he was someone who was close to signing -- but that West Ham pulled the plug when the player began to drag his heels over a move. "We tried. It was close. It became a saga a little bit,'' Bilic said. "I think Bacca is impossible. He scored a hat trick. Also I was the one who called it off three weeks ago in Austria. I wanted him, of course, but I don't want to have to drag players to West Ham. "We are not Real Madrid or Manchester United but we are a good club and a proud club with players who are proud to play for us. "Lots of players want to come to West Ham, believe me. They are calling me every day. So I was the one who said there was no point continuing with Bacca. We are not going to beg anyone to play for us. "I wasn't angry at him. He is at a great club on great money and he wants to stay on that level. And of course we are not at that level. We want to be in a few years but we are not there yet. I keep saying that just having a stadium, ambition and money that match those clubs, does not make you one of them.''
Slaven Bilic has been frustrated by West Ham's failure to land most of their attacking transfer targets. Bilic joked that any striker seemingly linked to his club has hit a purple patch in front of goal: "Good targets, eh? We knew before everybody and were already watching all those players,'' he said. "We should get something from those clubs! We are better than any preseason. Want your player to score a hat trick? Here's West Ham's number!'' Despite making no secret of his desire to bring in more attacking options, Bilic said he will never lose faith in Carroll -- even though the England forward has been hit with another injury. The 27-year-old has been plagued with injury problems since joining from Liverpool and could now be out for up to six weeks with a knee issue. But Bilic believes the former Newcastle man is worth keeping around for when he is fit enough to play. "I'm never going to give up on Andy, he is so good and I like to stick with the players I feel are giving me everything,'' he added. "I like and love him as a player, even as a person. He is trying, he is doing everything. "He passed the whole preseason and he trains like he plays. But it was the movement of the knee. He just came on. It was not fatigue. A bad move on a bad pitch, bad kind of grass that caused that. "He is bringing you quality in every game, you count on him and the suddenly he is out.''


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