Hammers deny deal for Mutu is in pipeline

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The Independent Football

Gianluca Nani, West Ham's sporting director, insists they are not interested in the former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu, despite persistent speculation to the contrary. The Romania international's agent claims a move to Upton Park next month is not out of question, but Nani has dismissed the reports outright.

"I would like to talk about serious things," Nani said. "I prefer not to say anything about Mutu. It's all rubbish. I'm saddened by all these voices which insist there's a deal. There's little respect and that's not right."

Mutu is currently in his fourth season at Fiorentina, where he has scored 58 goals in 117 matches. The 30-year-old has had a troubled past few months as he fights the €17m (£15.3m) fine he has been ordered to pay Chelsea. Mutu cost the London club £15.8m in 2003 but was sacked a year later after he tested positive for cocaine and was given a seven-month worldwide ban from football.

After serving his ban, he joined Juventus in January 2005 before moving to Fiorentina at the end of the following season. Mutu has become one of La Viola's key players and scored 13 goals in 19 games last season as he and Alberto Gilardino formed one of Serie A's most formidable partnerships.

The West Ham striker Guillermo Franco has labelled the Christmas schedule in England as "crazy". The 33-year-old played in the victory over Portsmouth on Boxing Day and the defeat at Tottenham on Monday that keeps Gianfranco Zola's side in trouble towards the foot of the Premier League.

"We have had two games in 48 hours and it is crazy – only in England do you play twice in such a short space of time," the Mexican said. "I have never done it before in my career, not in Argentina, Mexico or Spain. It's very difficult for everyone and for us to play a very important match and lose those two players.

"I feel very tired and I feel down because we lost," Franco added, "but it's important that we retain a positive feeling for the future."

Franco picked up his fifth booking of the season against Spurs, meaning he will miss the FA Cup tie against Arsenal on Sunday. "We don't have too many players," he added. "We have some injuries, so I will take care of myself over the new year and will be back to help the team in 2010."