Shape of things to come for slimmer Hammers squad
Saturday 13 December 2008
Gianfranco Zola has a long-term plan to reduce the size of the West Ham United first-team squad from 34 players to 21 plus three goalkeepers. This has led to claims that the club are to conduct a fire sale – fuelled because of question marks over their financial plight. Although the owner, Bjorgulfor Gudmundsson, wants to sell after suffering from the collapse of the Icelandic economy, the club argue they are self-funding and do not need to raise money from offloading players.
However, it is true that Zola has in mind a list of "fringe players" who can go next month and would also consider selling either then, or in the summer, more regular first-team players, but only if better replacements are first found and, in the case of Matthew Upson, for example, if the club receive a huge offer. Tottenham Hotspur are interested but not at a ridiculous price.
When Zola has whittled down his squad, he also wants to create a shadow squad of younger players, aged 21 and under, who can fit in when required. He has already complained, for example, that the highly promising defender Jordan Spence, aged just 18, cannot train with the first-team squad because there are too many senior professionals in his way. Spence would be one to benefit from a smaller squad, which is why he is currently on loan to Leyton Orient.
Players likely to be on the hit list are:n Craig Bellamy: The Welsh striker (pictured) would be the highest-profile player at the club available for transfer, but only if West Ham signed a replacement first. Club would also want, at least, to recoup close to the record £7.5m spent on him.
Julien Faubert: The French midfielder has proved a huge disappointment since signing for £6.1m from Bordeaux in July last year. Hampered by injury – he ruptured an Achilles, which kept him out for several months – he has also suffered from a loss of confidence. Linked with move to Lyons.
Luis Boa Morte: Proved a huge disappointment since his £5m arrival in January last year. West Ham would love to move him on.
Calum Davenport: One of the former manager Alan Curbishley's favourites but is unlikely to figure much under Zola, despite starting the season in the side.
Nigel Quashie: On loan at Birmingham City but has been surplus to requirements at West Ham for a long time. Still has two years left on his contract.
Daniel Gabbidon: Was a crowd favourite and one of the club's best performers but his career has been badly disrupted by injury. Is still not fit and has now fallen dramatically down the pecking order.
Lee Bowyer: Another whose career at West Ham has been hampered by injury.
Jonathan Spector: On his way back from injury but the defender does not appear to feature prominently in Zola's plans.
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