Friday, May 26

Daily WHUFC News - 26th May 2017

Professional contract for Hammers youngster

17-year-old midfielder Conor Coventry has become the second youngster in
successive days to sign his first professional contract with West Ham
Coventry is a Republic of Ireland U17 international
The central-midfielder has been with the Club since he was ten and says it
was a proud moment to pen his new deal

Promising midfielder Conor Coventry has signed his first professional
contract with West Ham United. The 17-year-old, who has been with the Club
since he was ten, is un U18 regular and also represents the Republic of
Ireland at U17 youth level. Coventry made 21 appearances for Steve Potts and
Mark Phillips' Academy of Football side this season, helping the outfit
qualify for the upper tier of the U18 Premier League earlier this year. The
central-midfielder also made two appearances for the U23 side, scoring on
his London Stadium debut in February's 2-0 victory over Fulham. And securing
his first professional deal was a proud moment for the youngster.
"It's really good for me and my family," he said. "I've worked for this for
a long time so yes, I'm really happy to sign the deal.
"I've been at the Club since I was ten, so it's good to finally get a pro
contract and see if I can kick on again from this. "[This season] has been
good. I've just tried to work hard and firstly get myself in the U18s team
and then get a few appearances for the 23s. I've done what I set out to do
and overall I'm happy. "It was a good moment [to score my first goal for the
23s]. It gave me an incentive to try and get back in the team and try and
add more goals to my game. I want to try and improve that and add more goals
to my game. "I think I'm a good all-round midfielder and I like to tackle
pass and do a bit of everything. I just try to make sure I'm good in all
areas of the pitch and my game."

Academy Director Terry Westley thinks Coventry can develop even further next
season with the fantastic games' programme the Academy look forward to next
season. "The U23s will play the likes of Man United, City, Liverpool,
Everton, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, so it's great for the Academy," Westley
said. "It's a great games programme we have next season. "They're good
fixtures for 23s players, especially if you're an U18 like Conor is. Conor
has been over to Rush Green to train with the first team and he's been with
the U23 group this year too, so you can see that progression. "I think to
have that plan about what you're going to do with a player is important. If
you're sitting down with the player and the player's parents and he's a top,
young player, you want to see there's progression for them. "Conor is a lad
we think a lot of, and very gifted player with the ball and he has an awful
lot to come."

Coventry has made six appearances for Ireland's U17s in total, winning every
one of the games and starting five. And the youngster is keen to continue
his encouraging progress with international football. "I love [playing for
Ireland] because it's playing for your country and there's nothing really
like that," he continued. "It's great to get the experience of playing
against teams from all over the world, different styles of play, and I think
it's proved to be good for my development. "You get to see what different
players are going to do against you and how different teams will set up
against you. In the Premier League, there's a lot of different nationalities
so it's a good learning curve for the future if I get to play at that

Cresswell called-up for two big England fixtures

Aaron Cresswell has been called-up by England for two mouth-watering
fixtures in June. Gareth Southgate has included the West Ham United
left-back in his squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier with Scotland
in Glasgow on Saturday 10 June and friendly international with France in
Paris on Tuesday 13 June. The Hammers No3 will hope to add to the cap he was
awarded when he made his senior England debut against Spain at Wembley last
November. Speaking then, Cresswell said playing for his country was
something he had dreamt of doing since he first started playing football as
a boy in his home city of Liverpool. "I was obviously delighted, as it is a
dream come true," he told "Ever since I started playing football
as a little boy, this is what I wanted to do, and to do it at Wembley in
front of 84,000 fans, I can't speak any higher of it. "It is something I've
always wanted to do and I've achieved it."

After overcoming a knee injury caused by a poorly-timed challenge in
pre-season, the 27-year-old regained full fitness and totalled 29 first-team
appearances in the Premier League, EFL Cup and Emirates FA Cup in 2016/17.
Cresswell could come up against two very familiar faces should he feature in
England's two upcoming fixtures.

Current West Ham winger Robert Snodgrass has been included in the Scotland
squad for their vital UEFA qualifying Group F meeting with the Auld Enemy at
Hampden Park. Fourth-place Scotland go into their clash on seven points,
while unbeaten England lead Group F on 13 points. Slovakia and Slovenia sit
between the two on nine and eight points respectively, all from five
qualifying matches played.
The Scotland fixture will kick-off at 5pm and be screened live in the UK by
both ITV and Sky Sports.

Then, Cresswell could face former West Ham teammate Dimitri Payet at the
Stade de France, as his fellow one-time Hammer of the Year has been selected
in Didier Deschamps' squad for the match. The France fixture will be
screened live by ITV, with kick-off at 8pm.

West Ham United issue Retain List

West Ham United have issued the Club's Retain List of players at the end of
the 2016/17 season. Academy graduates Moses Makasi and Noha Sylvestre have
both signed new one-year deals, while the Club has exercised an option in
full-back Alex Pike's contract to extend for a further year.
Loanee Jonathan Calleri (pictured, above) returns to Uruguayan parent club
Deportivo Maldonado after appearing 19 times for the Hammers, with the
Argentinian striker scoring his only goal in the Premier League victory at
Middlesbrough in January.

A second loanee, Turkish midfielder Gokhan Tore (pictured, below), returns
to his parent club Besiktas after making eight appearances in all
competitions – five in the Premier League, two in the UEFA Europa League and
one in the EFL Cup. The 25-year-old was the man who provided the assist for
the first-ever Premier League goal scored at London Stadium – Michail
Antonio's header against AFC Bournemouth in August.

Alvaro Arbeloa's contract expires on 30 June after his single season in east
London, during which time he made three Premier League appearances and also
started the EFL Cup victory over Accrington Stanley.

Young professionals Sam Howes, Sam Ford, Kyle Knoyle and Sam Westley will
also depart after not being offered new contracts. Nineteen-year-old
goalkeeper Howes was capped by England at U17, U18 and U19 levels, while he
also appeared for the first team on the Football United Tour to New Zealand
in summer 2014. The teenager spent the 2016/17 season on loan at National
League South club Hampton & Richmond Borough. Striker Ford also spent part
of the 2016/17 campaign on loan in National League South with Bishops
Stortford, having joined West Ham from Ipswich Town in March 2016. Defender
Knoyle, 20, made his one and only Hammers appearance in the UEFA Europa
League third qualifying round second leg defeat by Astra Giurgiu in Romania
in August 2015. The Newham-born player was later loaned to Scottish club
Dundee United, where he reached the 2016 Scottish Cup semi-finals. Knoyle
spent part of the 2016/17 season on loan at Championship side Wigan
Athletic. Finally, defender Westley, 23, joined the Hammers from Stoke City
in July 2014 and has appeared regularly for the Club's U21 and U23 sides.
Westley also spent the 2015/16 season on loan with Dutch club VVV-Venlo,
making his first-team debut in a Jupiler League victory over FC Den Bosch in
April 2016.

The Club would like to thank all those named above who will be leaving for
their efforts and wish them well in their future careers.

Slaven Bilic - We need game-changers

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic will enjoy a well-earned break from the
incessant pressure of being a Premier League manager over the next few
weeks. After ten months of near non-stop action, the Hammers' season ended
with victory at Burnley and an eleventh-place finish on Sunday. Bilic will
now undergo surgery on a long-standing hip problem before heading back to
his native Croatia to spend time with his family - but his mobile phone will
remain switched on (almost) all the time as the Club looks to bring in
quality signings this summer. In the first of a three-part West Ham TV Iron
Works interview, the boss identified the attributes he is looking for in
potential new recruits, his own summer plans and why a new playmaker will
help Manuel Lanzini to flourish...

What will you do this summer to recharge your batteries?

"I need it like everybody else. You need to rest so I'm going to rest with
family and friends back home [in Croatia] after my operation, which I'm
going to do in London. The week after I can fly back home and I'm going to
be at home, basically on crutches.
"I'm looking forward to it because it's going to be like a proper rest."

People wouldn't realise how little you see your family during the season
compared to people with 'ordinary' jobs…

"If you live in London, what is an 'ordinary' job these days? The hours that
the average workers are working, unfortunately they don't see their kids a
lot as well. "OK, it's more because you are away at the weekends but it's
that kind of a job, so I'm looking forward to spending some time with the
family." "Of course! We're not starting now, we've been talking for the
whole season, monitoring and now it's about time to do it, not necessarily
in a couple of weeks but until the finish, until the end of the transfer
window. "We know what positions we want to improve the team. We have a list
of the players but it's not very easy to get them, you know. It looks very
positive so far."

It's not fair to ask you about positions or names, but it's fair to ask what
type of player you would like to add to your squad – their qualities and

"We need quality players. Of course you always need quality players but
sometimes you are buying players for the future, sometimes you are buying
players for the squad to be back-ups and all that, but we are good in that
department. "OK, we can talk about, if some of the players go, we can
refresh the team with new players, but mainly we need the players who are
going to improve the quality and be the game-changers. "There are no
guarantees in football, but we need starting XI players in certain
positions. "We want it all, but those players are very hard to get and they
cost a bit. They are pretty much the privilege of the big, big, big guns. We
have to close our eyes on some things. We can't expect them to tick all the
boxes with a mark ten.

"But athleticism is very important in today's football, especially in the
Premier League if you are talking about physicality and all that. It's got
to be fit players with stamina, with pace definitely and the of course good
enough in all other departments.

"It depends, because we are looking in a few positions. In some positions,
we are looking for physicality and they may lack a bit of first touch and
delivery, but if you are talking about midfield area, if we want something
in midfield, and I'm not saying we do because we are good there, then we
would like to add a bit more quality.
"We have legs and physicality but we would like to add a little bit more
quality to [Manuel] Lanzini, like what we had last year with Manu and
[Dimitri] Payet, which was a great combination, not just for the two of them
but for the whole team. It was great for [Aaron] Cresswell, for Mark Noble,
for [Cheikhou] Kouyate, for the strikers, for Michail Antonio, so the whole
team was benefiting from that link between the two of them."

David Gold - Why I'm optimistic for next season

Joint-Chairman David Gold pens his thoughts on West Ham United's 2016/17

Hello everyone,

It was a very positive finish to the season at Burnley on Sunday, when I
thought we showed great character and spirit to come from behind and take
all three points.

The last few weeks really have summed up what a roller-coaster campaign it
has been. We had that fantastic performance and result against Tottenham,
when the atmosphere at London Stadium was absolutely electrifying, followed
by a very disappointing defeat to Liverpool in our final home game, before
bouncing back on the final day at Burnley. Not only that, but we beat them
with no fewer than eight established first-team players out injured.

Our last seven matches of the season brought three wins, three draws and
just one defeat – during a period when we were beset with injuries, so I
think Slaven and the players deserve a lot of credit for showing such fight
and determination at an extremely important time.

Our aim at the start of the season was to hopefully finish close to where we
ended up last year, so there is a slight tinge of disappointment that we
were unable to do that. However, given all of the circumstances and the
issues that have confronted us this season, I think we have to say that
finishing eleventh – and just one point off eighth place – was an acceptable

It also shows that there are such fine margins in the Premier League. You
could say that had West Brom not grabbed that last-gasp equaliser at London
Stadium in February, we would have finished in eighth place, one point ahead
of Southampton. Of course it's a big 'if', but it does show that we actually
haven't been too far away from where we want to be.

And perhaps the element of our campaign that I am most proud of is the fact
that, when times have been tough and the pressure really has been on, the
players have stepped up and shown the qualities needed to secure vital

I think of the win at Crystal Palace back in October, the back-to-back
victories against Hull and Burnley in December, the 3-0 win over Palace
again just after the Dimitri Payet situation occurred, and the crucial
triumph against Swansea in April.
The camaraderie and togetherness of the squad has really shone through when
it was most needed and that is a very encouraging sign.

Another huge positive from the game at Burnley on Sunday was a senior debut
for young Declan Rice, who came on as a late substitute. Declan has had a
terrific season as captain of Terry Westley's Under-23 PL2 team who won
promotion via the Play-Off Final at Newcastle recently.

Sunday was just the first step on a long journey for Declan, but we have
every confidence that he will continue to progress and develop, and
hopefully go on to enjoy a successful career in our first team.

This also gives me an opportunity to clarify some comments that I made on my
Twitter account earlier this week, regarding young teenage players and how
tough it is for them to break into Premier League teams now.

My point was a general observation about modern football, and the fact that
it is far more difficult for 17 and 18 year-olds to establish themselves in
top flight teams than it was maybe 20 or 30 years ago.

There is now so much pressure and scrutiny on the Premier League and, with
most sides now full of international players, clubs have to be very careful
not to heap too much on the shoulders of young players who are only just
progressing from the Academy.

The pathway now for teenage players is to go out on loan to lower division
clubs, where they can gain experience, grow stronger and more mature, and
play regular senior football without the extreme pressure that comes with
the Premier League. The hope is that they then come back and, by the age of
20 or 21, are ready to make that step up.

What I do believe is that, at West Ham, we have a group of very talented
young players who have shown great progress in recent seasons and have a
very bright future at our club. The likes of Reece Oxford, Reece Burke, Josh
Cullen, Toni Martinez and Martin Samuelsen have all gained great experience
out on loan, and I have every confidence and hope that they will break into
the first team here in the future.

The Academy is a vital part of our structure – we have put a huge amount of
care and investment into it in recent years, and nothing would give me
greater pleasure than to see the next Mark Noble come through and build a
successful career at London Stadium.

Our long-term future certainly looks bright, and I believe we can also look
forward with optimism in the short-term.

Of course, we would love to be competing in Europe next season, but after
two years of returning early from the summer break to play competitive
Europa League football in July, this year we have a full rest period and a
regular schedule before the Premier League campaign begins.

And we must take advantage of that.

It will give us an opportunity to ensure that the injured players have the
time and patience they need to recover fully in time for pre-season, and
also to bring in some new faces who can strengthen not just the squad, but
the actual first choice starting XI.

Talking of recovery, I would like to wish Slaven a speedy return to action
after he underwent hip surgery this week. We look forward to seeing him back
on his feet very soon and raring to go for next season.

Finally, I would like to finish by thanking all of our supporters for your
passionate and loyal backing throughout our momentous first season at London

Once again, the support has been magnificent, both at home and particularly
away – I must give a special mention to those who spend a lot of money and
time following us all around the country. The support up at Burnley on
Sunday was phenomenal again, and always makes me feel so proud.

We look forward to 2017/18 with great hope and optimism. Season Ticket
renewal figures are already at a record level, which is testament to our
magnificent supporters, and I can promise you that everyone at the football
club will be doing all we can to reward that faith next season.

Have a wonderful summer.

Come on you Irons!

David Gold

Rice – I'm loving Ireland experience

It has been a whirlwind few days for West Ham United youngster Declan Rice.

Fresh from making his Premier League debut as a late substitute in Sunday's
2-1 victory at Burnley, the 18-year-old defender received a phone call from
Martin O'Neill inviting him to Ireland's training camp ahead of their June
fixtures against Mexico, Uruguay and Austria.

Fast forward to Thursday and Rice was lining up on the training pitch
alongside the likes of experienced internationals Wes Hoolahan, Richard
Keogh and Daryl Murphy at the Boys In Green's camp at Fota Island near Cork.

The Academy starlet admits he is struggling to take it all in but is making
the most of the opportunity handed to him.

He explained: "It was a dream come true, firstly to make my Premier League
debut on Sunday – it's something I've wanted to do since I was a kid – so to
then get the call from Martin [O'Neill] to say I'm going to come in for
three days and train is a great experience.

"I couldn't believe it when the call came, I was with my dad and he couldn't
believe it either. My family are so proud."

Rice's progress has been rapid, from picking up the FAI Under-17
International Player of the Year award, starring as the Under-19s reached
the Elite Round of qualifiers for the UEFA U19 Championship, captaining the
Hammers' Premier League 2 side to promotion, and being named the Young
Hammer of the Year – all since March.

He added: "It started off with the Under-17s, going really well, and to be
honest last year I didn't think it would have gone this well to get the call
to come in [and train with the seniors].

"After I got back from the Under-19s qualifiers earlier this year, Slaven
Bilic pulled me as he was coming out of a press conference and just said to
me he had people out there watching and that I'd done really well.

"I was shocked to be honest, as I didn't know [he'd be watching], but you've
always got to play well when you put the Irish shirt on because you know
there's people who want to take that jersey off you.

"I've really enjoyed training with the senior team. The sessions have been
really good and the lads have taken to me.

"Darren Randolph said to me to be my own self and train like I do at West
Ham and I'd be fine. He said the lads would talk to me and make me feel

Written by @farehamhammer

Sunday's win at Burnley was like a relative dying. You could say a hundred
terrible things about them, but being at their funeral you only bring up the
good moments of their life. Same with West Ham. You talk of the beautiful
passages of football played by West Ham at Turf Moor on Sunday, choosing to
ignore the many poor performances throughout the season. However, the
Liverpool result apart, we have seen enough during the last few matches of
the season to suggest that better day's lay ahead next season.

One of the big pluses about next season is that we don't have to play the
ridiculous qualifying matches to get into The Europa League proper. That had
a hugely negative impact on our season. When you are playing competitive
matches in July, you don't get to have a proper pre-season. That leads to
player fatigue and injuries, and likely contributed to us having such a
lengthy injury list

The close season is, of course, the summer transfer window! A time of spin
and more spin! You get newspapers printing every bit of transfer gossip
under the sun because it sell's newspapers! You get player agents trying to
move their player on to another club, or trying to get a better contract at
the players current home. Every move or increase for a player mean's more
money for an agent.

Two typical example's spring to mind.

Two stories have appeared in the media. One regarding Jermain Defoe, and the
other regarding our own Andre Ayew. According to reports, Bournemouth
Football Club have offered Defoe a two year deal on £115,000 per week and a
signing on fee of SIX MILLION! Pigs would fly the day that happened! No
disrespect to Bournemouth FC, a great Football Club who play attractive
football under Eddie Howe. A man I would not mind seeing at The London
Stadium in time.

Bournemouth have twice been close to going bust. As a result they are very
careful with money. It could also cause disharmony in the dressing room
between Defoe and the other Bournemouth players, who would not be on
anywhere near that amount of dough. Defoe may well still land up at
Bournemouth …if West Ham don't want him. By leaking the proposed 'deal'
Defoe's agent hopes to achieve two things. One, obviously to get Defoe the
best deal possible. Two, to force the likes of West Ham to conclude a deal
as quick as possible. He obviously does not know Messrs Gold and Sullivan.
The problem with Defoe is he lacks the pace to get behind defences now. So I
would not be in the least bit surprised if The Club's interest in the player
has cooled. We have also heard Andre Ayew's Father tell the media that the
player would be 'interested' in returning to Marseille. That is normally a
tactic player's use when trying to get an increase. No chance.

No doubt David Sullivan will be dealing with a lot of agents this summer.
The pressure is on The Board following last summer's fiasco. Many fans have
already turned on Gold, Sullivan and Brady and another bad window could
cause deep trouble.

What do I expect this time round? Same as usual. A marquee player, two more
for decent money, an expensive loan, a loan with an option to buy, a
freebie, and a couple of cheapies. Same as usual then, right Fareham?


Many have seen me taunt them about freebies, cheapies and loans. A lot have
said to me that I was right all along. That is NOT strictly true. Sullivan
has caught me flat footed once or twice. One such an occasion was when Big
Sam wanted Andy Carroll and Matt Jarvis. I was writing for Sam Hewitt at We
Love You West Ham at the time and I wrote a hell of a post regarding Gold
and Sullivan. Christ on a bike man! I really went for them! I said there was
more chance of Jesus walking on The Thames than Andy Carroll and Matt Jarvis
signing for West Ham. I sent the article across to Sam to be posted.

Sam got back to me and said "Fareham! You have gone to town on The Owners! I
will post it but maybe we should wait a bit in case things change?" He
admitted that he thought it unlikely to happen. I laughed and agreed.

Within two weeks Matt Jarvis and Andy Carroll were Hammers. I was ABSOLUTELY
gobsmacked. I did not believe that they would sign Payet or Kouyate either!
I told everybody the whole of last summer that there was NO chance they
would sign Carlos Bacca. Which they didn't of course. However, at one stage
I thought I would have had to back track in my opinion. If they had
offloaded Diafra Sakho to West Brom, there would have been no Zaza. But
Carlos Bacca, along with Andre Ayew, would have been donning The Claret and
Blue. Whether we like it or not there is no argument that The Owners can
step up to the plate if they want to. Twenty four years in the game most
certainly gives them an advantage when dealing with most agents. First deal
concluded? Looks like Pablo Zabaleta on a free. He's a real leader and a
bloody good signing! Remember. Only a few season's back we were signing
Walter Lopez on loan!

We are more than a Football Club, we're a way of life!

Slav in positive mood on summer recruitment
Filed: Thursday, 25th May 2017
By: Staff Writer

Slaven Bilic says he has a list of players he'd like to sign in the summer -
and believes the club have made a positive start to their recruitment
Speaking in an interview for West Ham's website, Bilic - who is set to
undergo a hip operation shortly - revealed that he is seeking to strengthen
his first team in several areas, whilst admitting that some players may
leave in order to make room for new arrivals.
"We know in what positions we'd like to improve the team - we have a list of
players," he revealed. "It's not very easy to get them, but it's looking
positive so far.
"We need quality players. Of course, you always need quality players, but
sometimes you are buying players for the future and sometimes you are buying
squad players to act as back-up. We are good in that department. "Some
players may go to refresh the team with some new players, but mainly we need
the players who are going to improve our quality and be the game-changers.
There are no guarantees in football but we need starting XI players, but
only in some positions."

And with regard to the type of player he may be seeking, Bilic admitted that
he feels the team is perhaps a little short currently of powerful, quick
players - and those with the ability to wow a crowd. "Athleticism is a very
important thing in today's football, especially in the Premier League if
we're talking about physicality," he said. "So it's going to be fit players
with stamina, with pace, definitely - and then good enough in all other
departments of football. "In some positions we are looking for physicality;
they may lack a bit of first touch and delivery. If you are talking about
midfield area, if we want something in midfield, then we would like to add a
bit more quality. "Last year [we had] a great combination with Manu and
Payet, not just for the two of them but for the whole team. The whole team
was benefiting from that link between the two of them."

Although the Hammers are yet to confirm any deals, Manchester City full back
Pablo Zabaleta is odds-on to be named as Bilic's first recruit of

Pro contracts for Academy duo
Filed: Thursday, 25th May 2017
By: Staff Writer

Academy prospects Conor Coventry and Alfie Lewis have been awarded their
first professional contracts. Coventry, 17, has been at West Ham since he
was just 10 years old and has also featured for the Republic of Ireland at
Under 17 level whilst Lewis, also 17, has been a regular feature in Steve
Potts' Under 18s side this year. "I've worked for this for a long time so
yes, I'm really happy to sign the deal," Coventry told "It's good
to finally get a pro contract and see if I can kick on again from this."

Meanwhile Lewis was equally delighted. "This is the contract you always
want," he said. "I've done my scholarship and now I'm on my pro deal, so I'm
looking forward to it."

Academy Director Terry Westley, who will oversee both players' careers as
Academy Director feels that both could go a long way in the game. "Alfie's a
boy we think a lot of, and he's gifted on the ball," he said. "He still has
an awful lot to come. It's not like he's an early developer; he has plenty
more development in him and he deserves his professional contract. Slaven
has brought him over for training sometimes and he's been with the U23 group
this season. You can see that progression." And as for Coventry, he added:
"Conor is a lad we think a lot of and is a very gifted player. He has an
awful lot to come."

Jonathan Calleri, Gokhan Tore and Alvaro Arbeloa to leave West Ham as Slaven
Bilic confirms retain list
Evening Standard

Jonathan Calleri, Gokhan Tore and Alvaro Arbeloa will all leave West Ham
this summer, the Premier League club has confirmed. Calleri joined the
Hammers on loan from Deportivo Maldonado last summer and made a total of 19
appearances for Slaven Bilic's side. But the 23-year-old scored just one
goal - a deflected strike against Middlesbrough - and has not been offered a
permanent deal. Tore also failed to impress during a season-long loan spell
and will return to parent club Besiktas after making just eight appearances
for the east Londoners.
Alvaro Arbeloa's arrival on a one-year deal was heralded as a coup but the
World Cup winner endured an injury-hit campaign at the London Stadium. The
right-back made just four appearances and will become a free agent when his
current contract expires on June 30.
The majority of last year's signings failed to make a significant impact
under Bilic and the Croatian is expected to strengthen his squad again this
summer as the club attempt to build on their recent 11th place finish.
Meanwhile, academy graduates Moses Makasi and Noha Sylvestre have penned new
one-year deals while the club has exercised an option to extend Alex Pike's
contract for a further year.
Sam Howes, Sam Ford, Kyle Knoyle and Sam Westley will all depart after
failing to earn new contracts.


Departing Bradford City loanee Josh Cullen has backed the Bantams to build
on an encouraging 2016/2017 season. Cullen will return to parent club West
Ham United after a hugely successful campaign with City for the 21 year-old.
After coming back to the club for a second loan spell last August, Cullen
helped the Bantams to the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final. The talented
midfielder also picked up the Players' Player of the Year award. As the
fans' favourite returns south, Cullen was keen to pass on his thanks to all
those who had made his time at the Northern Commercials Stadium such an
enjoyable part of his career. Cullen said: "I am still disappointed that the
season didn't finish how we all wanted it to last Saturday. "It was an
achievement to get the final though, and I'm sure the lads will give it a
great shot next season. "I want to thank everyone at Bradford City - the
players, staff and fans - for everything during my time at the club. "I wish
the club all the best for the future. "I couldn't have really wished for a
better club to join on loan. It is a great club with great people. "This is
a club I feel a passion for, so it is very hard to take that we couldn't get
that promotion.
"The club has to move on now, as I have to do as well with my career, but
I'm sure the lads here can keep pushing this club forward."

Five reasons why Pablo Zabaleta is the perfect signing for West Ham
Why has Slaven Bilic been so quick to secure Zabaleta's services?
Football London
10:03, 25 MAY 2017

"He's too old," some say. "He's past it," say others. Pablo Zabaleta is all
but confirmed as a West Ham signing and is expected to be unveiled as such
on Friday on a two-year deal, following his release from Manchester City
after 333 appearances. The 32-year-old is another very experienced signing,
following on from Jose Fonte's move in January from Southampton but that has
left some Hammers fans saying it's not what the club needs right now. So,
let's look at what Zabaleta will bring to the table and why he is a good
signing for the club.


That's the big one - he's won the Premier League twice and has 58 caps for
Argentina. While it may not have quite worked out for Alvaro Arbeloa (but
that's his own fault) it shouldn't be the same for Zabaleta, a consummate
professional. West Ham desperately need experience at right back, with Sam
Byram often prone to a mistake. With Zabvaleta likely to stay for only a
couple of years, he will provide solidity down that side. "Someone who can
score goals as well as create them, the Icelander is a must buy for the
Hammers this summer, and if it means them breaking their transfer record
then so be it."

He's a right back

Well, it's what West Ham needed this summer desperately and it's what Slaven
Bilic wanted to get sorted quickly. He has gone out and got a right back,
what more do you want?

A winning mentality

Look, we are not saying West Ham are going to win the league now that
Zabaleta is on board, that's ridiculous. But, he won't accept anything less
than the best of what his team mates can give. The Argentine is sued to
having success at Man City and winning lots of games, so he will bring that
to the London Stadium. West Ham won't go on the rampage next season and win
every game they play, but Zabaleta will ensure that every single player
gives 100%.

The chance to help Byram

Sam Byram will be pushed hard for his place by the Argentine, he knows it
and we all know it as well. If Zabaleta is the first choice right back - ad
you suspect he will be - Byram needs to see this as an opportunity to help
him develop as a player. He is only 22 and has plenty of miles left in the
tank. It's unlikely Byram will be let out on loan because if Zabaleta got
injured, then what? Byram needs to see the move as a positive, learn from
one of the best to play in the position and when he does move in, in two
years you think, Byram is ready to step up.

It's not just Byram, though...

Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell on the left flank will be able to learn a
thing or two from the 32-year-old, no doubt. Especially Masuaku at 23, he's
got plenty of time to develop into an even better player. Look further down
the list as well to the likes of Kyle Knoyle, who plays right back for the
Hammers PL2 squad. He could learn an enormous amount from Zabaleta. Knoyle
is already a a very talented prospect who is well thought off at the club,
it could do wonders for his future development.

By Iain Dale 25 May 2017 at 08:00

The priority for the West Ham recruitment team over the next few months is
surely very simple. It is to recruit better players than we have already in
a number of different positions. Sam Byram will be none to impressed that
Pablo Zabaleta looks likely to be our first pre-season recruit, but can
anyone really deny that he wouldn't improve the quality of our first eleven.
Hardly. And that's what it's all about.

So what other positions do we need to improve on? I'd say the goalkeeping
position would be one, although it may not be the first priority. Excellent
goalkeepers are hard to come by but if we could sign Begovic, Hart or
Butland I'd certainly say they were better than either of our current
goalkeepers. It's good to see Adrian back in form, and he hasn't really put
too much of a foot wrong since his return, but given the choice of him or
Begovic, I know which one I would go for. But any of the three keepers I
have mentioned would cost relatively big money, so I am not holding my
breath on that.

In central defence we certainly need to think about bringing in one top
class defender. Jose Fonte has never looked the answer to our defensive
problems and paying £8 million for a player his age looks to be verging on
madness, given his performances since his arrival in January. Winston Reid
continue to be injury prone and James Collins isn't getting younger. Angelo
Ogbonna has played really well but is also prone to injury. Reid has played
30 games, Collins 21 and Ogbonna 19. We have Reece Oxford and Reece Burke
coming through and it's surely time one of them became a key part of the
squad. We also have Declan Rice who's emerged this season. I still think we
should be looking to bring in one top quality centre back.

At left back we are well covered with Cresswell and Masuaku, who to me has
been a brilliant addition to the squad.

In central midfield we are also well served with Kouyate, Obiang, Noble and
Fernandes. I suspect Nordtveit will be sold, but given Josh Cullen's season
at Bradford he is quite capable of stepping up to the plate.

Out wide it is certainly the truth that Feghouli, Snodgrass and Ayew have
all been disappointments to one degree or another. Michaeil Antonio is
rightly our player of the season and Lanzini has run him close, but again, a
top quality wide player ought to be a must. If it were down to me I'd sell
Feghouli, Snodgrass and Ayew and invest the money in one world class player.

Up front it all depends on who we sell. It would not surprise me if Carroll
were sold to Newcastle and it may be that Sakho demands to go (again), but
both their injury records are horrific. Hopefully we can offload Valencia,
and Calleri has already gone. Ashley Fletcher hasn't broken through, despite
appearing very bright whenever he has come on. There's no doubt we have been
very short of quality up front and we certainly need one marquee striker to
come in. Hopefully that will be Batshuayi, but I wouldn't bet my mortgage on

So, a goalkeeper, a right back, a central defender, a winger and a striker
(or two). I reckon we need to spend at least £80 million.

West Ham could raid relegated clubs and strengthen their spine this summer
Damien Lucas

Slaven Bilic could strengthen the spine of his team considerably by picking
off three players from relegated duo Sunderland and Hull City. The Hammers
have endured a difficult second season under Bilic but managed to finish
11th despite flirting with relegation at various stages. Injuries, upheaval
as a result of the move to the Olympic Stadium, the Dimitri Payet saga and
poor recruitment made life difficult for the much-loved Croatian. And he and
co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold know they cannot afford to make the
same mistakes again this summer. Speculation has been rife over possible
transfer targets already. And while Bilic will undoubtedly be scouring
Europe for top talent, there are a number of players from the relegated
Black Cats and Tigers who could improve the Hammers and help strengthen
their spine considerably.

Jordan Pickford

The hugely impressive Sunderland 'keeper could be a target for a number of
clubs with the likes of Everton also said to be keen. But the Hammers
desperately need to address their goalkeeping situation with neither Adrian
or Darren Randolph nailing down the number one spot this season. Reports
claim Pickford could be available for £15 million from the Black Cats and
West Ham would represent a step up for the young star.

Harry Maguire

After Hull's demotion to the Championship this most saleable and desirable
asset is undoubtedly Harry Maguire. The 24-year-old has been superb for the
Tigers and is a rare breed of centre back who can operate at full back and
is comfortable with the ball at his feet. West Ham would need to beat off
competition from the likes of Arsenal, Newcastle and even Chelsea if reports
are to be believed but he would also be another Englishman in the Hammers
ranks, something Bilic has publicly stated he is keen on.

Kamil Grosicki

Flying Poland winger Kamil Grosicki has got his career back on track at Hull
after off the field problems. And he has been a revelation since signing a
three and a half year deal back in January. His influence was central to
Marco Silva's excellent run as he came close to keeping Hull up against the
odds. In the end it wasn't enough to save the Tigers, though, and having
proved himself in the top flight the 28-year-old would be just the kind of
pacey assist machine West Ham need and looks a much better bet than Sofiane
Feghouli and Robert Snodgrass.

West Ham line up swap deal for Inter striker as Bilic gives up chase for
Liverpool forward
The Hammers are looking to reinforce their attacking options
06:00, 25 MAY 2017

West Ham are thought to be considering a swap deal with Inter Milan in order
to secure the services of Italian striker Eder this summer.
The 30-year-old (who is not the Portuguese international who scored the
winning goal in the Euro 2016 final) has been deemed surplus to requirements
at the San Siro after six league goals this season, and would be allowed to
join the Hammers in exchange for Arthur Masuaku, according to
Slaven Bilic has apparently given up the chase for Liverpool striker Daniel
Sturridge and is now exploring some other options, and may be willing to let
Masuaku depart. The French fullback made just 11 league starts for the
Hammers this season after joining from Olympiakos for £6.2m in August but
finished the season relatively strongly in Aaron Cresswell's absence. But at
just 23-years-old and with three years remaining on his current deal,
Masuaku carries more obvious long-term upside than the 30-year-old Eder.

Date: 25th May 2017 at 6:48am
Written by: Bodie Williams

West Ham would significantly bolster the right side of their defence with
the signing of Manchester United defender Guillermo Varela.
Varela, 24, has spent the entire season on loan with Bundesliga outfit
Eintracht Frankfurt, with the German club ready to make the deal permanent
even though he has only made 10 appearances in Germany. Board member Fredi
Bobic revealed on Frankfurt's official website that the Uruguayan went
against club wishes to get a tattoo, which has now got infected and ruled
him out of the German Cup final against Borussia Dortmund. Now suspended,
This Is Futbol analyses three reasons why Varela would vastly improve Slaven
Bilic's side as the Hammers look to put a disappointing 2016-17 campaign
behind them.

Sam Byram and Alvaro Arbeloa

The duo have been plagued with constant injury problems throughout the
season, leaving the likes of Michail Antonio, Havard Nordtveit and Cheikhou
Kouyate to fill in at right-back on numerous occasions. Bringing in
reinforcements at right-back would prove crucial in aiding Bilic's side next
time around, and Varela would more than do that. Arbeloa's current deal is
now set to expire in just over a month, while former Leeds ace Byram's
displays have been short of convincing. With the Hammers known to chop and
change between 4-2-3-1 and a system that uses wing-backs, a right-back who
gets forward is key and Varela provides just that.

Contract situation at Old Trafford

With only 12 months left on his current deal at Old Trafford, Varela could
be allowed to leave on the cheap this summer as United look to avoid losing
him on a free transfer next season. Bilic may not be trusted with a huge
amount to spend in the transfer window, after a number of poor signings in
the summer of 2016 including the likes of Arbeloa, Nordtveit, Simone Zaza
and Gokhan Tore. If a cut-price deal can be struck for Varela, then Bilic
would be able to save the majority of his transfer budget to improve other
areas of his squad.

Premier League potential

Varela has made just four Premier League appearances during his career,
after moving to Old Trafford back in the summer of 2013. The Uruguay
Under-20 international showed no fear and raw talent as he went up against
West Ham, Bournemouth, Arsenal and Watford during 2015-16. Able to get
forward and throw cross into the box, showing a combative nature and willing
to put his body on the line, Varela could be an untapped gem that Premier
League bosses have overlooked


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