Neill to snub Liverpool as Hammers close in on £1.5m deal

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The Independent Online

West Ham United made an emphatic move into the transfer market last night with both Tottenham Hotspur's Calum Davenport and Blackburn Rovers' Lucas Neill undergoing medicals at Upton Park while a loan bid for the Seville striker Kepa Blanco is expected to succeed late today.

Davenport is also due to join for £3m today, although the situation is less clear with Neill. Spurs have allowed Davenport to go because they are in negotiations with the Portuguese club Benfica over the signing of defender Ricardo Rocha as his replacement. A Spurs delegation was in Lisbon to meet the Benfica president, Jose Vega, with a view to buying Rocha for ¤4m euros (£2.9m).

The 28-year-old Rocha has six caps for Portugal and has been identified by the Spurs manager, Martin Jol, who has long trawled the market for a central defender and has failed with several bids, as being able to add the experience his squad needs.

The 6ft 4in Davenport played 10 games on loan at West Ham after joining Spurs from Coventry City for £1.3m in 2004. Watford had hoped to sign him, as part of a player-plus-cash deal for Ashley Young, but that has now fallen through. West Ham, of course, have had a £9.65m bid for Young accepted but it appears the winger wants to move to Spurs ­ although they will certainly not match that offer.

West Ham made their move after injuries to Danny Gabbidon and James Collins. Davenport is expected to make his debut against Newcastle United on Saturday. Whether he is joined by Neill remains to be seen. Although the 28-year-old travelled to London and has been offered a two-and-a-half-year contract, doubling his wages to £60,000-a-week, Blackburn remain reluctant to sell until they have a replacement and may try and hold Neill until the end of the season.

West Ham, who have offered £1.5m for Neill, who is out of contract this summer, are refusing to give them Paul Konchesky even though the player appears to want to leave. Liverpool have always been favourites to sign Neill but their patience has worn thin with the prevarication over the deal.

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, yesterday issued Neill with an ultimatum ­ saying he had to decide whether he was coming to Anfield by today. Liverpool have agreed a swap deal involving Stephen Warnock for the full-back and, despite offering less in personal terms, had expected Neill's signature to be a formality, having received repeated assurances that he prized Champions' League football and honours above money.

However, Neill's advisors returned to Liverpool with revised demands, prompting Benitez to say: "If a player wants to come to play for Liverpool, he must say yes quickly. We will not wait. If he thinks about it for too long, maybe it's a signal it's time for us to look for other players. We have alternatives."

The Hammers also face competition for Blanco from Manchester City, but he is thought to favour West Ham with a view to a £4-5m transfer in the summer. His agent, Alvaro Torres, confirmed that the player now had a straight choice. "Seville is evaluating offers from West Ham and Manchester City, " said Torres. "Both are six-month loan deals."

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