West Ham officials were in Milan last night to negotiate the permanent signing of the Brazilian striker Adriano in what could turn out to be the most surprising deal of the summer transfer window.
Talks initially started over a season-long loan for the 25-year-old, who is out-of-favour at Internazionale. However, both he and the Italian champions have made it clear they would prefer a permanent transfer and West Ham have been encouraged to push ahead, although they face competition from Lazio.
The striker's £80,000-a-week wage demands are not regarded as a problem by West Ham, although they were still trying to agree a fee last night, with Inter hoping to receive more than £15m for a player who has fallen dramatically down the pecking order.
West Ham have also lodged a formal £5m bid for England international left-back Nicky Shorey and are hoping to hear later today whether it has been accepted. However, Reading are continuing to indicate they will not sell until they have signed a replacement – even though Shorey has pleaded with them to let him leave and will not sign a new contract.
There was bad news for West Ham last night, however, with new £6m signing Kieron Dyer suffering a suspected broken leg after being carried off in their League Cup victory at Bristol Rovers. He was taken straight to hospital with the game delayed for several minutes.
West Ham moved for Adriano after finally dropping their interest in Nicolas Anelka, despite being willing to pay more than £10m for the Bolton Wanderers striker. It appears he will now either move to Portsmouth or remain at the Reebok. West Ham have also accepted defeat, for now, in their hunt for Eidur Gudjohnsen, despite having a bid of €10m (£6.76m) accepted by Barcelona. Gudjohnsen's knee injury is proving troublesome and he may have to undergo surgery.
West Ham are likely to bid again for Gudjohnsen in January with the striker, who has come round to the idea of moving to Upton Park, saying he wants to get himself fully fit before he decides his future.
If Adriano signs it will fulfil chairman Eggert Magnusson's ambition of landing a spectacular transfer deal this summer – something he privately promised after the departure of Carlos Tevez. It will also act as a statement of intent for the club.
Yet the interest in Adriano is also an embarrassment for manager Alan Curbishley, who tried to dismiss the link as "agent talk" just as it was being confirmed on the club's web-site. At that stage West Ham were only willing to say they were hoping for a loan deal but it appears that matters were progressing quickly last night and a permanent deal is likely. "We are not rushing into anything," a club source said. "There are conversations taking place. He is a great player and we would like to sign him."
Adriano's availability has been circulated to several clubs, with the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger yesterday confirming he had turned down the opportunity to sign him. "We don't need Adriano," Wenger said. "And they [Inter] wanted one of our squad. I won't tell you who but we'd have lost a player we didn't want to lose. That has nothing to do with the quality of Adriano." It's thought the player in question was Gilberto Silva.
Adriano, who joined Inter six years ago, has endured a difficult time in recent months with accusations that he enjoys the party life having affected his prospects for club and country. He was dropped from the Brazilian national squad with coach Dunga saying he had to "change his behaviour". Inter have also lost patience with him despite his 43 goals in 99 appearances for the club to add to the 25 goals he has struck for Brazil in just 36 internationals.Reuse content