West Ham reject City's bold bid to sign Bellamy and Parker for £15m

Hammers determined to hold on to prize assets but their hand may still be forced
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The Independent Football

West Ham United have rejected a £15m bid from Manchester City to sign both Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker. The Premier League club insist that neither player is for sale and have also moved to hold talks with Matthew Upson's representatives to spell out their intention to hold on to the England international who is also attracting intense interest with the transfer window set to open.

Clubs assume that West Ham are in a position where they need to sell their most valuable assets but although a list of potential departures has been drawn up, from one of the bigger squads in the league, it does not include the likes of Parker, Bellamy, Upson, Robert Green, Valon Behrami or any other first-team regular.

West Ham rejected a bid of £6m on Christmas Eve from Tottenham Hotspur for Bellamy with the club's chief executive, Scott Duxbury, telling The Independent that the Welsh international was not for sale. If, however, an offer of £15m was made for the 29-year-old, who has scored three times in his last three matches after a barren spell, then it would be put to the manager, Gianfranco Zola.

The same would apply to Upson and Parker with the club, despite the financial crisis facing its owner, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, adamant that they are self-sustaining, and can cover their costs, and that they do not need to sell even if they could raise significant funds by cashing in now. However, they admit that money will only be made available to Zola in January through the departure of fringe players or those who have disappointed such as Luis Boa Morte, Julien Faubert or Jonathan Spector.

City, who tried to sign Bellamy last summer and had an offer of £6m rejected, have now tested West Ham's resolve again with the joint bid that also includes an unexpected offer for Parker. The 28-year-old, like his team-mate, was signed in the spending spree conducted by the club's former chairman Eggert Magnusson. The bid from City has been dismissed by West Ham, who signed Bellamy for £7.5m from Liverpoool last year, although it will be interesting to see how the player himself reacts to attempts to sign him being rejected. Bellamy has suggested it may be time to move on. A further £7m was spent by West Ham to acquire Parker from Newcastle United.

The City manager, Mark Hughes, is a long-time admirer of Bellamy, having managed him for Wales and Blackburn Rovers, while he is also keen to stiffen a midfield with a more aggressive, ball-winning player such as Parker. The bids also suggest that City, at least at present, are taking a more realistic approach to the transfer market with targets that Hughes has earmarked rather than those demanded by the wealthy owners from Abu Dhabi. They had indicated they preferred a more ambitious, stellar wish-list of players such as Kaka, Gianluigi Buffon and David Villa although offers for that trio cannot be ruled out given the money available at Eastlands.

Upson, who was bought from Birmingham City in January 2007 for an initial £6m, is also in demand having impressed for club as well as country after cementing his place in Fabio Capello's England squad and overcoming his own history of injury problems. Newcastle United are believed to have made an initial inquiry of around £8m. While City are monitoring the situation Spurs have denied interest in the former Arsenal player although his old club might just be in the hunt, but not at the price likely to convince West Ham to sell.

The bid for Bellamy and Parker suggests that some clubs may be keen to do their transfer business earlier than expected in January, especially a club such as City which has such great ambition. It will be interesting to see whether they make an improved offer to test West Ham's determination to hold on to the duo.