West Ham United have rejected a £6m bid from Tottenham Hotspur for their striker Craig Bellamy. The offer was received on Christmas Eve and dismissed out-of-hand by West Ham whose chief executive, Scott Duxbury, has informed Spurs that the 29-year-old Welsh international is not for sale.
It is understood that Spurs, who have identified Bellamy as the man capable of solving their goal-scoring crisis, despite the player having struck only twice himself so far this season, will nevertheless return with an improved offer.
It is believed that Spurs may be prepared to go substantially higher to land Bellamy (right), who is also attracting interest from Aston Villa and Manchester City. The latter were refused permission to speak to Bellamy last summer after also bidding around £6m, which again was rejected.
However if West Ham were to receive an offer of £15m for Bellamy it may tempt them into a deal especially as the player, who cost £7.5m when he was signed from Liverpool in 2007 and is one of the club's highest earners, has continued to be plagued by injury problems. Even then West Ham have pledged that the final decision on the player's sale will be left to manager Gianfranco Zola. "We have received a bid from Tottenham and it has been rejected," Duxbury confirmed. "They have been told that Craig Bellamy is not for sale."
A problem West Ham may face, however, is Bellamy's reaction to the bid being rejected. The striker has moved around during his career – spending time at a variety of clubs including Coventry City, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers – and has recently appeared to indicate that he may be likely to move again if his wage demands and valuation are met.
The bid for Bellamy is unlikely to be the last that West Ham have to field about their players during next month's transfer window. A number of fringe players – such as Calum Davenport, Luis Boa Morte and Jonathan Spector – would be allowed to leave and West Ham are keen, according to the wishes of their manager, to trim the squad size to allow some younger players greater first-team squad opportunities.
However, and despite the ongoing uncertainty over the club's ownership with Icelandic businessman Bforgolfur Gudmundsson keen to sell if he can find a buyer, West Ham are adamant there will be no fire sale and that they intend to hold on to their best players. Also expected to attract interest are Matthew Upson, a target of Newcastle United although Spurs are insistent they do no intend to bid for the central defender, Robert Green, Valon Behrami and possibly Mark Noble and Scott Parker.
At the same time West Ham, who play at Portsmouth today and hover just one point and one place outside the bottom three, are acutely aware they need to increase their goalscoring options with neither Bellamy nor Carlton Cole, Diego Tristan, David di Michele or Freddie Sears currently among the goals.
Technical director Gianluca Nani is understood to have drawn up a list of potential targets during the next month, although it is likely that West Ham will have to sell to generate funds before they can acquire another striker. Given they have five already and with Bellamy being the most valuable in the transfer market it is not inconceivable that they will eventually sell if the right price is reached.
Spurs, meanwhile, are likely to be one of the more active clubs over the next few weeks with manager Harry Redknapp determined to try to overhaul a squad which he believes falls short of the club's ambitions. He, too, however, has to sell to help raise funds for bids for players such as Glen Johnson and Stewart Downing while he is also hoping to bring in a free agent, Stephen Appiah, who has also held talks with Celtic.