Zola poised to break Hammers' record fee with £10m striker Savio

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The Independent Football

West Ham United are close to agreeing a deal to sign Brescia's Savio Nsereko for a fee that could total £10m after club executives spent the past two days in Italy holding talks. The club hope to make an announcement soon over the 19-year-old German, who decided to miss training yesterday and is well known to West Ham's technical director, Gianluca Nani, who was previously with the Serie B club, and manager, Gianfranco Zola.

The investment would be a club record for West Ham, beating the £7.5m spent in July 2007 for Craig Bellamy, who was sold earlier this week to Manchester City for £14m. West Ham hope that if they sign Savio it will demonstrate the commitment given to Zola that, beyond a number of fringe players, the proceeds of any sales would be reinvested.

Savio, an Under-19 international, has been interesting other Italian clubs, including Milan and Napoli, but West Ham hope that the size of their bid will prove successful. One of his agents, Dieter Hamann, confirmed that the club were in the race to sign Savio, who can play in a variety of attacking roles and is on a list of potential signings drawn up by Zola, Nani and chief executive Scott Duxbury.

Bellamy's departure was acrimonious, after he at first demanded a move to Tottenham Hotspur and had seven bids rejected for him from Spurs and City before the latter were finally successful. However, Zola confirmed yesterday that the 29-year-old had not refused to train and had asked for permission to go home.

"We wanted to keep Bellamy, we tried everything to keep him," Zola said. "He decided he wanted a new experience, as simple as that. We couldn't hold a player who was so determined to leave. He didn't go on strike. I don't want to talk about strikes or anything like that. Craig Bellamy has decided to go and that's it. End of story. The fans have to be confident that when I say somebody wants to stay here, we don't want to sell players that are important for the team unless they want to go."

West Ham have rejected bids and inquiries for a variety of players including Matthew Upson, Valon Behrami, Lucas Neill and Scott Parker, whom they are keen to offer a new contract. The Argentine striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo has confirmed he rejected the chance to leave Fiorentina for West Ham and decided to move to Bologna instead.

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