West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has revealed that a number of Chinese Super League clubs "fell in love" with striker Andy Carroll while scouring the Premier League for talent.
28-year-old Carroll was the subject of interest from several Chinese clubs this window, but Bilic said there was “no way” the club were going to sell the striker in the January transfer window.
The Chinese Super League transfer window shut on February 1 with a deal for Carroll yet to materialise. Super League clubs spent over £300m during the window, far eclipsing the £215m spent by Premier League teams.
"You know how much I rate him and how much we rate him," said Bilic, who can now concentrate on getting Carroll fit and firing for Monday's visit of Chelsea. "We wanted to keep him as he is one of our best players.”
Bilic did however appear to suggest that Carroll, who has been in fine form since returning from a knee injury in December, had been intrigued by the interest, admitting that the player felt “flattered.”
"As far as I know Chinese clubs sent representatives to watch a game and apparently they were watching other players but fell in love with Andy,” Bilic said during his pre-match press conference.
"Andy heard the story and I suppose he would be flattered, it's nice to have options and good opinions about you from other clubs - but we haven't talked about it.
"We haven't been bombed with offers from Chinese clubs so I haven't exactly been waiting for the window to close.
"It wasn't like we had three, four or five offers from China for our players. It didn't affect our training or relationships."
The former Newcastle and Liverpool forward has scored four goals in his last four games for West Ham, before a groin injury kept him out of draws against West Brom and Watford.
He has now recovered and took part in training this week and is expected to be fit to face the Premier League leaders at the London Stadium.
Bilic also played down speculation that he has opened talks over a new contract with the West Ham board.
The former West Ham defender re-joined the club as manager in 2015 and has proven popular with supporters, leading the club to an impressive 7th-place finish in his first season at the club.
West Ham made a slow start to the current campaign as they struggled to adjust with the switch from Upton Park to the 66,000 capacity London Stadium, losing five of their first six Premier League games.
West Ham's new home - in pictures
West Ham's new home - in pictures
1/10 New Olympic Stadium roof
The installation of a brand new cantilever roof at the Olympic Stadium will maintain the old Upton Park atmosphere, West Ham claim.
2/10 Slaven Bilic's seat
West Ham's coaching staff also have new seats in the dug-out, although they are further away from the pitch than they are used to.
3/10 Expansive tunnel
One of the trademark features of Upton Park was the tight, enclosed tunnel. That's the case no longer in Stratford.
4/10 Media facilities in progress
As work continues on West Ham's new home, the media facilities have been left until last...
5/10 Store open for business
Unsurprisingly, one of the first areas to open to the public was the new 'Stadium Store'.
6/10 Luxury VIP areas
West Ham will be able to boast some of the best VIP access in the Premier League next season.
7/10 Large screen in place
The 60,000 supporters set to fill the Olympic Stadium every fortnight will be able to re-live the action on this enormous screen.
8/10 History remembered
Former greats like Bobby Moore adorn the walls in all areas, outside and inside, at the new ground.
9/10 First training session
Bilic's boys got their first chance to train on the pitch ahead of the Europa League qualifier against Domzale.
10/10 Ready to move in
The stadium was completed on time and on budget, although the latter is best left for another day...
But they have improved markedly in recent weeks and now sit 9th, as they seek consecutive top-half league finishes for the first time since 2009.
Bilic has 18 months to run on his current deal but has said that he is not worried about negotiating a new deal, pointing towards Claudio Ranieri’s dismissal as a reason not to obsess over his long-term future.
"I have a contract and I am very happy here,” he said. "I always treat my next few games as my contract. I don't think that much about it.
"I wouldn't lie, yes, it would be nice but I have a year-and-a-half contract and there's no difference when you consider what happened to Ranieri. The biggest one and the best one.
"Who has the safest job? We would all say Ranieri. Everyone would have said that. Ranieri. And then what happened with that? So I'm not that bothered about that to be fair."
West Ham will be without their leading goal-scorer Michail Antonio when the two teams meet on Monday night after the winger was sent off for two bookable offences in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Watford.
Bilic however revealed his good form has put him in line for a new, improved contract, just months after signing a new deal last summer.
“We want to give him another contract because he’s been great for us and, hopefully, it will be done soon,” added Bilic.
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