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Alan 12:21 Fri Aug 31
Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Everton are confident they will keep hold of Ademola Lookman, despite interest in the English winger from RB Leipzig, who are willing to pay £25m for the 20-year-old. (Liverpool Echo)

Chelsea rejected the chance to sign Lyon and France midfielder Nabil Fekir, 25, in the summer, according to the French club's president Jean-Michel Aulas. Fekir had been a target for Liverpool. (Mail)

French champions Paris St-Germain are hoping to conclude a deal for 29-year-old Stoke City and Cameroon striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. (Mail)

Bundesliga side Hoffenheim are targeting Arsenal's 18-year-old English forward Reiss Nelson on a season-long loan. (Metro)

Strasbourg and Lazio are interested in signing PSG's American teenager Timothy Weah, 18, on loan. (L'Equipe)

Ivorian Wilfried Bony, 29, could be set for a move to Galatasary from Swansea City as Swans boss Graham Potter looks to offload the striker to reduce the club's wage bill. (WalesOnline)

With Bony linked with a move abroad, Real Madrid's Spanish forward Dani Gomez, 20, could join the Championship club on loan. (WalesOnline)

Croatia midfielder Luka Modric, 32, says he wants to stay at Real Madrid "for many years to come," as club president Florentino Perez said Inter Milan wanted to "pay nothing" in their pursuit of the player earlier in the summer. (Football Italia)

Liverpool's Serbia winger Lazar Markovic, 24, is set to complete a loan move to Greek side PAOK. (Mirror)

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini says he turned down the chance to sign former Manchester City and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, 35. (Talksport)

Aston Villa are set to sign French defender Harold Moukoudi, 20, on loan from Le Havre before a potential £10m January deal. (Mirror)

Blackburn will not allow Bradley Dack, 24, to leave the club after rejecting an offer in excess of £5m for the English midfielder from West Brom. (Sky Sports)

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo will officially buy La Liga club Real Valladolid on Monday. (AS - in Spanish)

Hull have joined QPR in making an offer to take Aston Villa's English defender Tommy Elphick, 30, on a season-long loan. (Sky Sports)

Middlesbrough's move for Millwall's Northern Ireland midfielder George Saville, 25, could lead to English winger Marvin Johnson leaving for Sheffield United and Millwall signing Sheffield United's English defender Ryan Leonard, 26. (Teesside Live)

English right-back Danny Simpson, 31, and Wales midfielder Andy King, 29, are expected to leave Leicester before the close of Friday's international transfer window. (Leicester Mercury)

Former England midfielder Gareth Barry, 37, will play a big part for West Brom this season, according to manager Darren Moore. (Express and Star)

Guardian Rumour Mill

Jacob Steinberg

The international transfer window shuts today, although you could be forgiven for thinking that it closed when Premier League clubs stopped doing business earlier this month. After all, the Mill’s lead story is Blackburn Rovers rejecting West Brom’s £5m offer for Bradley Dack. Gah! How on earth is Jim White going to work in these conditions? Sky probably aren’t even going to need the dreaded yellow ticker of doom if the following transfer piffle is any guide!

For instance, after plenty of talk that Ademola Lookman was going to join RB Leipzig for £25m, it now seems that Everton plan to stop the young forward from moving to Germany. Having spotted that Lookman is pretty good at football, Marco Silva has decided it would be a good idea to keep him at Goodison Park.
Transfer window 2018 – every summer deal from Europe's top five leagues
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Aston Villa are going to sign Le Havre’s Harold Moukoudi on loan ahead of a £10m move for the French centre-back in January. Moukoudi’s arrival means Villa will allow Tommy Elphick to join Hull or QPR.

Lazar Markovic still exists. The Liverpool winger is joining PAOK on loan. Barcelona are not going to sign Paul Pogba this summer. But they are going to sign Ronald Araujo from Boston River! The Uruguayan youngster will be theirs for €5m.

Moussa Dembélé wants to join Lyon, but Brendan Rodgers is determined to keep the striker at Celtic. He doesn’t want to have to replace him with Rickie Lambert and Iago Aspas. Although maybe King Brenny will cheer up when he hears that Markovic is available. There’s still time for a late swoop, Brenny!

At this point you’ve probably realised that all the exclamation marks are the Mill’s sorry attempts to drum up some excitement. It isn’t working, is it? Bah. But, like any good journalist, the Mill has left the best story until the final paragraph. It concerns Wolves ace Rúben Neves, who has the tricky choice of deciding whether to join Manchester City or Manchester United next summer. Hmmm. Pep or Jose? Jose or Pep? Tough one.


West Ham under the two Davids: eight years of wayward ambition

Rob Bagchi

August and anxiety are dismally entwined for David Sullivan and David Gold. Since becoming majority owners of the club in January 2010, West Ham United have lost their first three matches of a Premier League campaign in 2010-11, last year and, dispiritingly after a record summer’s investment, this season.

In 2016, after their best finish for 14 years, Slaven Bilic’s side began with five defeats from their opening six games.

Disappointment, followed usually by a jittery improvement, is not abnormal. It was evident again against AFC Wimbledon in midweek. Any fewer than four points from their next four matches, all of them tricky - Wolves at home on Saturday, Everton away followed by the visits of Chelsea and Manchester United to the London Stadium - would be troubling.

Even Avram Grant, the owners’ first appointment as manager in the summer of 2010, managed five points from his first seven games and was still there until they were relegated with a game to spare, maintaining as much dignity as he could summon after Sullivan’s public, midwinter courtship of Martin O’Neill ended with a brushoff.

Manuel Pellegrini, the only manager West Ham have ever had with an English league title to his credit, is no Grant. He has his former Malaga sporting director, Mario Husillos, installed as director of football, players he genuinely wants have been bought and Sullivan, habitually indiscreet and never equivocal about deflecting criticism, has so far been quiet.

“We have listened to fans who asked us to be ambitious,” the majority shareholder said in June when Pellegrini leant in to grasp Sullivan in a somewhat incongruous homie handshake after signing a three-year contract in the gilded, mirrored splendour of the co-chairman’s despot-chic Epping pile.

Three months earlier at the London Stadium neither he nor Gold had listened to fans who asked them to stand down when protesters begged the men who had “destroyed” West Ham to “get out of our club” but it often pays to be selective when bowing to supporters’ demands.

Gold and Sullivan inherited Gianfranco Zola as manager when they took over eight years ago, beating off rival bids from Tony Fernandes and Massimo Cellino.

They said Icelandic CB Holding, which had assumed control following Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson’s collapse into bankruptcy, had left the club with debts of £110m but pledged that “Zola is absolutely staying. I can say that categorically.”

Within three weeks Sullivan was saying “of all the managers I’ve ever dealt with, Zola is the nicest. The question is, ‘Is he too nice?’” And after no periods of silence from the voluble Welshman, a couple of months later Sullivan published a letter on the club’s website calling the team’s performance in defeat by Wolves “pathetic” and “shambolic”.

Zola, whose right eyebrow was almost permanently vertical like Roger Moore’s Spitting Image puppet at press conferences when asked to respond to the latest from Sullivan, kept them up but was sacked in May.

In came Avram Grant in June having taken Portsmouth to the FA Cup final and struggled gamely but vainly to stay up. “We have taken our time over this appointment,” said Sullivan. Gold almost immediately contradicted him, saying they’d made their minds up in 60 minutes: “After an hour, we knew we could work with this manager.”

A rotten start to the season left them bottom at Christmas until seven points from their three festive fixtures pushed them up to 16th. That was precisely the time the wooing of O’Neill became public, though the former Celtic and Villa manager eventually turned them down and so Grant was left more in purgatory than limbo and the club, according to Julian Dicks, “was a laughing stock.”

Sullivan and Gold's West Ham managers

2008-10 Gianfranco Zola
2010-11 Avram Grant
2011-15 Sam Allardyce
2015-17 Slaven Bilic
2017-18 David Moyes
2018- Manuel Pellegrini

All this happened years ago at the start of the Sullivan/Gold ownership but it remains instructive of the manner in which they have run the club. There is always a conflict between their desire to be disruptors in a business sense and their extremely orthodox approach to the game. They didn’t like Zola so they laid the ground weaselly and then got rid of him.

They needed a year of belt-tightening and had been impressed that Grant had rallied the fans to Pompey’s cause while the club fell apart and battled stoically against relegation. Having quickly realised their error, they shot for O’Neill but were not decisive enough to sack Grant first or, stung by criticism, go for another option when the seduction did not work. Their football instincts are entirely conventional. In business - how they made their money as bongo merchants, selling Upton Park and forcing through the move to the London Stadium - they don’t seem to give a toss what people think. But in football, they seem to care very deeply.

Choosing Sam Allardyce to get them out of the Championship in 2011-12 was a sound move but then they lumbered themselves with him for another three seasons, permitting Sullivan’s son to criticise players and implicitly the manager on Twitter, railing against the value for money of signing Andy Carroll, but letting Allardyce’s contract run to its end in 2015.

Everton’s Farhad Moshiri, with about 10 per cent of the experience Gold and Sullivan had from running Birmingham City and West Ham, had a far more savvy approach to Allardyce: exploit his skills in his specialist field, then, when he has helped you overcome the crisis, move on. This summer they finally did unto David Moyes what they should have done to Allardyce six years ago but one wonders if they would have kept ahold of course but for the abuse Gold received at Swansea last March and the revolt at the home Burnley game the following week.

Last year Sullivan told the Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg that moving grounds had made them only £10m a year better off and one of the reasons they had gone ahead was because it made them “feel like a big club. Not a tinpot club.” There they go again, caring how they look but blind to the reality that how they are perceived is likely to be an accurate representation of who they are.

If the current financial problems of their landlords, E20 Stadium LLP, ends with West Ham in an even stronger position, perhaps even eventual owners of the ground, it would be a remarkable business success for the owners. But would it make them any more likely as individuals to be executive leaders of a successful football club? The evidence of the past suggests not. They have found their level.

Yes, they have invested but in an incoherent fashion over the past eight years. It seemed like a whimsical approach: if the manager was in favour that week and really wanted a player, he would be bought. Similarly Sullivan himself would relay opportunities that he had been offered and see how the manager felt, sometimes making it public if they were not signed but subsequently did OK elsewhere - as if he wanted the world to know that he was a true ‘football man’.

They have rarely bought young players or, like Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal, flipped any for considerable profit apart from Dimitri Payet whose departure they felt helpless to prevent. Partial to superficial coups - like taking Joe Hart on loan, signing Pablo Zabaleta and Patrice Evra, possibly paying Jack Wilshere £100k a week - it’s as if they were looking for a short cut to be taken seriously. Yet even now they lack pace and power in midfield, have a surfeit of players at their best as wide forwards and a centre of defence that will take time to bed in.

Pellegrini is the upgrade they have wanted for the past three years, the one they were striving for when they began speaking to Rafa Benitez in 2015.

While it’s a new chapter for West Ham, one that has shown hints of promise despite the poor results, it also represents a last chance for Sullivan and Gold to prove that they are not just good at business and bad at football but have the discretion and fortitude to establish the club at a rank that matches their aspirations.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mex Martillo 6:41 Fri Aug 31
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

COOL HAND LUKE 3:54 Fri Aug 31
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Good stuff, bless ya, Al

thecockneyboy 1:01 Fri Aug 31
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Cheers Al, great article that.

Eddie B 12:50 Fri Aug 31
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Alan, thanks.

Thanks Alan 12:37 Fri Aug 31
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Takashi Miike 12:22 Fri Aug 31

Takashi Miike 12:22 Fri Aug 31
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

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