Argentina coach urges West Ham pair to leave club

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The Argentina coach, Alfio Basile, has added to the sense of crisis surrounding West Ham United by declaring that Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano need to leave the Premiership club for the sake of their careers.

Basile, speaking on hour-long discussion show Estudio Football in Buenos Aires last night, said: "I hope both of them leave that club as soon as possible. I think they are half-hearted and I'm really worried about that. They play as if they are unenthusiastic."

Basile, who has, so far, not travelled to England to see either of his internationals perform for West Ham, nevertheless added: "I hope for God's sake that Mascherano can go to Juventus as it has been said, even if he has to play in the Second Division [in Italy]. And Tevez can play in any position in the attacking line, but not as a left-winger like he is currently playing."

The comments from Basile, who replaced Jose Pekerman after the World Cup, will only heighten the pressure on West Ham, who signed both players in controversial circumstances on the final day of the summer transfer window. Despite their status on the world stage no fee was paid for the duo, who arrived from the Brazilian club Corinthians, and signed permanent four-year deals. Their inclusion in the West Ham team has, however, been followed by an alarming slump in form.

Both players, who are in the Argentina squad for a friendly against Spain, are understood to have clauses in their contracts which allow them to leave - although it is believed that West Ham will only receive a fee if the players are sold for a combined total of £40m.

Both have struggled to make any impression with Tevez, in particular, appearing out of condition and finding it difficult to adapt to Premiership football. Their arrival also coincided with Kia Joorabchian - who arranged the deal and will profit from their sale - rekindling his apparent interest in buying the club.

The West Ham board have grown impatient with Joorabchian and had intended to issue a "put-up or shut-up" ultimatum prior to a board meeting on Wednesday. However, they were persuaded that Joorabchian's interest is serious with the Iranian businessman stressing that he needs more time to finalise his plans and raise the £70m to buy the club. The club's chairman, Terence Brown, remains concerned and is keen to have the matter resolved ahead of the next Premiership match on 14 October.

The issue has been complicated by the emergence of a second consortium, as revealed in The Independent, who are believed to have approached Brown, but, as with Joorabchian, have not yet submitted a bid. Although they have not made themselves public they insist their interest is serious.