WHO Poll
Q: 2020/2021 Where will we finish up this season?
a. Top Four, Champions League here we come
b. 5th-7th Europa League is well within our grasp
c. 8th to 14th anywhere in mid table is about right
d. We're in a dog fight before a ball has been kicked and we'll do well to finish 17th or just above
e. GSB have derailed our season before a ball has been kicked, the Championship beckons

Alan 12:45 Fri Dec 18
Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Manchester United could make a summer bid for West Ham's Declan Rice, although the 21-year-old England midfielder is thought to prefer Chelsea should he leave the Hammers. (Express)

Wolves are monitoring Liverpool and Belgium striker Divock Origi, 25, who could be allowed to leave in January. (Mail)

Manchester United are working on a January exit for Marcos Rojo, with Newcastle keen on a loan move for the Argentina defender, 30. (The Athletic - subscription required)

New West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce has prioritised bolstering the side's defensive options and has identified Crystal Palace centre-back James Tomkins, 31, as a potential signing. (Mail)

Liverpool have added Roma centre-back Roger Ibanez to their list of defensive targets to cover injured Netherlands international Virgil van Dijk, 29, and could bid £30m for the 22-year-old Brazilian. (AS Roma Live, via Team Talk)

Barcelona presidential hopeful Victor Font says he will not be repeating the mistakes of previous candidates by making bold transfer promises, amid links with Borussia Dortmund's Norway striker Erling Haaland, 20, but hopes to persuade Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi, 33, to sign a new contract. (Goal)

Hungary midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, 20, a target for Arsenal, has completed his move to RB Leipzig from sister club Red Bull Salzburg, and will join in January after signing a four-and-a-half year deal. (Mirror)

Arsenal appear to be on the verge of finally wrapping up a deal for Hertha Berlin centre-back Omar Rekik after the 18-year-old defender arrived in London on Thursday. (Metro)

Napoli will demand at least £14m if they are to sell Poland striker Arkadiusz Milik in January amid interest from Juventus and Atletico Madrid. The 26-year-old has also been linked with Everton. (Goal)

Arsenal are monitoring the progress of 20-year-old Senegalese winger Abdallah Sima, who plays for Czech club Slavia Prague. Italian champions Juventus are also said to be interested in the player, who has been dubbed the 'new Thierry Henry'. (Calciomercato via Daily Express)

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti hopes he can see out the full length of his contract and deliver "trophies and something special" over the course of his stay which will take him until the end of the 2023-24 season. (Liverpool Echo)

Celtic are in talks with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Conor Hazard, 22, over a new long-term deal. (Football Insider)

Manchester United are in negotiations with Celta Vigo's 16-year-old defender Stefan Bajcetic over a move to Old Trafford. (La Voz de Galicia, via Sport Witness)

Arsenal's Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno, 28, has accused his club's squad of lacking "discipline" and having "no self-confidence" during a poor run of results in the Premier League, and insists Mikel Arteta is not to blame. (Sky Sports)

AFC Wimbledon are considering the possibility of sharing their new home at Plough Lane with rugby league side London Broncos. (London Evening Standard)

Anderlecht manager and former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany says his on-loan City striker Lukas Nmecha has no noticeable weaknesses, as the Germany Under-21 international, 22, continues to impress in Belgium. (Manchester Evening News)

Anderlecht are keen for discussions with Manchester City about extending Nmecha's loan for another season. (Sports Illustrated)

Government minister Guy Opperman has written to the Premier League again "to seek the answers" that Newcastle supporters "deserve" after the club's proposed takeover fell through last summer. (Newcastle Chronicle)

Planet Football

An ode to Modibo Maiga, a rubbish West Ham striker with a difference

Nostalgia By Michael Lee

Modibo Maiga netted just four goals in 34 appearances for West Ham, which seems about right for an expensive striker bought by David Sullivan. But there’s more to the story than that…

Expectations are a dangerous beast. Have them dashed and the feeling of helplessness and frustration at your naivety can be overpowering. Alternatively, go through life without any expectations at all and you condemn yourself to live a diminished existence. Ultimately, a life without any expectations is no life at all.

Besides, even when expectations are not met, joy can be found in the most unlikely moments and have the effect of enriching an already precious memory.

Take Modibo Maiga. At first glance, Maiga is one of countless West Ham flops bought at heavy expense only to completely underperform.

To a large extent, this is true. After a semi-prolific spell at French side Sochaux, Sam Allardyce bought the Malian striker to the club for £5million in the summer of 2012. Considering Maiga was a dainty attacking player, his pairing with Big Sam seemed destined to belong together like custard and brie, even at the time.

During his spell with the club, Maiga was marginalised in favour of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan, begging the question as to why he was purchased in the first place. Loaned to QPR, then Metz, Maiga was offered £1million to just go away – a deal he refused.

Eventually, Maiga signed for Saudi side Al-Nassar in 2015, the £6million fee causing thousands of East End eyebrows to rise into another postcode. He scored four goals in 34 appearances for West Ham.

Therefore, we’ve established that Maiga was neither a great goalscorer nor a scorer of great goals. However, it is undeniable that he provided two great moments in a West Ham shirt that were almost worth the transfer fee alone. Almost.

The first came on a dank December afternoon against Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea. Having gone nine years without victory over their London rivals, West Ham found themselves being thoroughly outplayed and behind to a Juan Mata strike.

Happily, this would be an afternoon where the script did not follow convention. Carlton Cole scored a gloriously scrappy equaliser, climbing over Branislav Ivanovic to bundle the ball past a static Petr Cech.

Any point a newly-promoted side can chisel out against the European champions would normally be considered a bonus. Not this time. With four minutes remaining, Mo Diame lashed home a powerful low drive from the edge of the area to send Upton Park doolally.

And Maiga’s moment was still to come. As Chelsea pressed desperately for an equaliser, their play was becoming more and more chaotic. When Ashley Cole dawdled on the ball and sent a pass lazier than a Monster-guzzling teenager into the path of Maiga, he had the chance for immortality.

He laid the ball off to Matty Taylor, whose shot was saved by Cech but rolled irresistibly back into the path of the Malian. Without breaking stride, Maiga gleefully tucked the ball past three despairing Chelsea defenders on the goal line and wheeled away kissing his index finger as the stadium erupted around him. He had provided the seal to an unforgettable afternoon.

Then… nothing. Maiga went a full 12 months without bothering opposition goalkeepers to the point where fans had genuinely forgotten he was still at the club.

Instead, Allardyce put his faith in the fitness record of Carroll – with predictable results. After a 10th-placed finish the season before, West Ham slid down the league in 2013-14 and found themselves in the familiar position of a relegation battle and a lengthy injury list.

Inspired by the team’s 3-0 win at Tottenham in October, Allardyce regularly fielded a team with no strikers while Maiga was kept on the sidelines. By early December, West Ham had more goalless draws (six) than the entire Bundesliga (five).

Respite came in the League Cup. Having eliminated Cheltenham Town, Cardiff City and Burnley, the Hammers were drawn to play Tottenham in the quarter-finals. In an added twist, the match would be Tactics Tim Sherwood‘s first match in caretaker charge at Spurs.

As if demonstrating the paucity of options available to him, or perhaps sensing an opportunity, Allardyce named Maiga among his substitutes.

The first half passed goalless and relatively uneventful. Tottenham were buoyed by the departure of Andre Villas-Boas and played with the energy of men who’d regained access to their beloved mayonnaise rations. Wisely, West Ham allowed Spurs to run down their levels of energy.

The match only came alive in the 67th minute from a moment of underrated genius. Emmanuel Adebayor, recalled to the squad by Sherwood, launched himself at Jermain Defoe’s cross and volleyed the ball in off the underside of the bar. After months of tedium and ineptitude, the White Hart Lane crowd rejoiced uninhibitedly. Progression to the semi-finals appeared inevitable.

But, they reckoned without Maiga. Introduced shortly before Adebayor’s opener, his presence on the field seemed to induce the West Ham players into some sort of trance. Taylor launched a howitzer of a shot that Hugo Lloris did well to keep out and the sense grew that the tide had turned.

This was confirmed 10 minutes before the end. Keeper Adrian launched a long punt downfield which Maiga headed down to Taylor. The midfielder found Matt Jarvis on his left and he scampered a couple of yards before firing home an unstoppable effort. Jarvis, another big-money flop at West Ham, had delivered his defining moment in east London.

However, the night would belong to Maiga.

Against all known convention, West Ham continued to look menacing and pushed forward. Ravel Morrison carried the ball around the edge of the Tottenham box until playing a Pirlo-esque pass out to Diame on the right flank.

Taking a touch to steady himself, Diame delivered a pinpoint cross into the crowded penalty area. Among the sea of heads, the ball was improbably met by Maiga who guided his header beyond the limbs of Lloris and into the net. Behind him, the massed West Ham fans enjoyed a collective orgasm. The resulting release of joy could be heard as far away as Barnet.

The striker wheeled away bashfully, perhaps having forgotten what scoring a goal felt like, and was soon mobbed by exultant team-mates. On the touchline, Allardyce patted down his hair and suppressed a smile having temporarily metamorphosed into Alf Ramsey.

Deliciously, Maiga should have added another to his tally after a rasping shot cannoned back off the crossbar. No matter, his place in West Ham folklore was already secure. The Hammers held on and were suitability rewarded with a 9-0 spanking by Manchester City in the semi-finals, despite Allardyce fielding 11 goalkeepers.

To focus on results alone would be to live in a black and white world, and Maiga’s time in east London demonstrated just that. Even if initial expectations are not met, it doesn’t mean that player cannot provide unforgettable moments of joy.

As Barry Davies once said, good meals can be made out of crumbs.

Sport Witness

Player nearing ‘long-awaited’ move to West Ham United – Has ‘said goodbye’ to club teammates

Last month, Silkeborg IF confirmed to have agreed a deal for Frederik Alves’s sale in the winter market, but didn’t provide details of the centre-back’s next destination.

Reports in Denmark have stated West Ham United are in the driving seat to acquire the defender’s services.

Earlier this month, the FA, Premier League and the EFL issued a joint statement, detailing the new rules for English clubs in bringing in foreign players to the UK post Brexit.

On December 3rd, Ekstra Bladet explained the new rules will have no impact on the Hammers’ chances of signing the 21-year-old in January.

Local newspaper Midtjyllands Avis now claims the Denmark U21 international has ahead of him a ‘long-awaited’ move to the Premier League, where he will join David Moyes’ side.

Silkeborg take on Skive IK in the last fixture of this calendar year that is scheduled to take place later today.

It’s claimed Alves will not be included in the squad to face Skive as he has already played his last match for the Danish club.

The report further adds the player has already ‘said goodbye’ to his current club teammates, ahead of impending move to West Ham next month.


Rice changes agent as Irons ready new deal

However, journo Simon Johnson writes, that the Hammers will not be selling at the turn of the year even if a bid of £80m is tabled.

There are the usual stories the Blues are interested in signing their former academy star, and the report states that the Blues are maintaining their pursuit ahead of the January window.

Rice will not hand in a transfer request and the report states that it is believed a new contract has either been offered to the 21-year-old or is about to be .

ClaretandHugh understands that the Hammers currently believe Rice is worth as much as £100m but there is absolutely no intention to cash in any time soon.

An original £70 million price tag was placed on him nearly two years ago but as current stand in skipper and an England regular, the price has risen.

At his age, and with more improvement to come, the Hammers will be mentally adjusting his value despite making it clear he is going nowhere.

He is tied to the club until 2024 and is currently leading the club into a possible Euro qualification place in which he would be very keen to become involved.

Former academy director and CandH exclusive blogger Terry Westley, who is, of course, very familiar with Rice’s situation, told us: “Declan has been made skipper. David Moyes has made it clear it will take Bank of England money and should West Ham finish in the top six Declan will want to be a part of it next season.

“He is very, very West Ham.”

It remains to be seen if Rice will put pen to paper but, at the very least, three more years of Rice seems like the likely outcome!

The world will still be at his feet at the age of 24.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Razzman 7:41 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Cheers Al

Texas Iron 2:44 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Kaiser Zoso 1:38 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
charleyfarley 1:02 Fri Dec 18

charleyfarley 1:02 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
bill green 12:55 Fri Dec 18

bill green 12:55 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan 12:49 Fri Dec 18

Thanks Alan 12:49 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
ted fenton 12:46 Fri Dec 18

ted fenton 12:46 Fri Dec 18
Re: Friday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan.

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