WHO Poll
Q: 2021/22 What competition should we prioritise this season?
a. The league is our bread & butter, so this year let's have a club sandwich
b. We're owed an FA Cup after Gerrard nicked our last one in 06, our name's on it in 22
c. A bye to the League Cup 3rd round gives us a good start, let's make it count
d. The Europa is our best ticket to the Champions League, this is the one
e. What's wrong with you, let's do the lot, has the quadruple ever been done

Alan 12:14 Tue Apr 27
Tuesday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Paris St-Germain have moved ahead of Manchester United over a potential deal to sign Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 36, from Juventus. (Tuttosport - in Italian)

Manchester United are monitoring Slavia Prague's Senegalese forward Abdallah Sima, 21. (Manchester Evening News)

RB Leipzig are demanding a world record 25m euros (£21.7m) from Bayern Munich to seal a deal for their manager Julian Nagelsmann (Sky Sports)

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag will move up Tottenham's wishlist to fill their managerial vacancy, with Bayern set to appoint Nagelsmann. (Telegraph)

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, 22, will remain at AC Milan despite his contract expiring this summer and interest from Manchester United and Chelsea. (TalkSport)

Real Madrid will not make a great effort to keep France centre-back Raphael Varane, 28, who has been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea. (AS - in Spanish)

Varane says his "future is clear" and he is "focused on the end of this season" with Real Madrid as they challenge to win the Champions League and La Liga. (Mirror)

Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, 29, wants to leave Liverpool this summer in search of more game time. (Football Insider)

Leicester City are interested in PSV Eindhoven's 19-year-old winger Noni Madueke but face competition from AC Milan, RB Leipzig and Lille for the England Under-21 international. (Mail)

Everton are working on extending 29-year-old Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez's deal with the club. (Marca Claro)

Everton are leading the race to sign 18-year-old Metz midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, with Aston Villa, Chelsea, Manchester United and Newcastle United also interested in the Senegal international. (Mail)

Arsenal have opened talks with England Under-21 midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, 20, over a new contract. (The Athletic - subscription required)

The Gunners are willing to sell four players this summer to fund signings. (Football London)

Chelsea and Manchester United are monitoring Brighton's Irish midfielder Andrew Moran, 17. (Team Talk)

Barcelona are confident Eric Garcia, 20, will join the club when the Spanish defender's contract with Manchester City expires at the end of the season. (Mundo Deportivo - in Spanish)

Roma have chosen former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri to become their new coach this summer. (Corriere dello Sport - in Italian)

Leeds are set to open talks with Northern Ireland midfielder Stuart Dallas, 30, over a new contract. (Football Insider)

Newly-promoted Championship side Norwich are interested in German attacking midfielder Robert Andrich, a 26-year-old playing for Union Berlin. (Bild via Norwich Evening News)

Planet Football

Billy Mehmet: From breaking my back at West Ham to facing a mob in Turkey

Simon Yaffe

Billy Mehmet has faced a baying mob at Galatasaray, was turned down by a club in New Zealand after he travelled to the other side of the world for a trial and has spent the past four years playing in a league which is not recognised by FIFA – and the former West Ham youngster would not have it any other way.

Having spent the past decade away from British shores in countries as diverse as Turkey, Australia and Malaysia, it is a long way from Mehmet’s early years at West Ham’s famed academy, where his contemporaries included Anton Ferdinand and Glen Johnson.

A broken back suffered during a youth-team game put paid to his Premier League ambitions with the Hammers, but that injury set in motion a long career filled with trials and tribulations.

“The opportunities I had at West Ham disappeared, but I have experienced so many different places, which I look back on and really do appreciate,” Mehmet says.

Now 36, Mehmet is currently plying his trade with Merit Alsancak Yesilova, in Northern Cyprus. But he has not played competitive football for seven months, as the state’s top division, the Super Ligi, has still not been resumed, having been postponed in September due to coronavirus.

To add to the childhood Manchester United supporter’s frustrations, he has not seen his London-based family – including his young daughter – for a long while.

“We had a pre-season and a training camp, but then we suddenly got sent home from the hotel. Since then, I’ve had lots of calls from Scotland and Turkey regarding signing me, but it is difficult to get out of my contract,” he says.

“It is frustrating because I have played football my whole life, and it has also been very hard not seeing my family, waking up every morning to do the same routine.”

Mehmet, who lives in the city of Kyrenia, was raised in London, the son of an English mother of Irish descent and a Turkish-Cypriot father. Snapped up by West Ham’s academy when he was eight, the striker spent more than a decade there, progressing through the ranks.

But by the time he was invited to first-team training under then-manager Harry Redknapp, he knew he faced a fierce battle to establish himself, with such names as Paolo Di Canio, Jermain Defoe and Frederic Kanoute well ahead of him in the pecking order.

“I did play a few pre-season games and in a few testimonials, and it was great being a kid at West Ham,” Mehmet says. “I felt so much pressure when I trained with the first-team boys, simply because I didn’t want to muck up their training exercises.

“The good thing was, though, that they always encouraged us youngsters. I loved Harry, too – I remember once, I was injured and he came into the physios’ room, chucked me his keys and told me to go and clean his car.

“If he told you to do something, then you did it – and you understood why afterwards. It was a great learning curve for us because these days, the youngsters don’t have to do anything around the training ground.”

Disaster struck, however, during an Under-19s game against Everton.

“I went up for a header and I landed head first. I’d ended up going over the other player and then he landed on top of me.

“I actually carried on playing for five minutes, not realising I had broken anything before I felt a massive surge of pain, which was when I knew something was really not right.”

Mehmet spent a year out of the game, during which time Redknapp was sacked by West Ham. Once he had returned to training, he did not get a chance under Redknapp’s successor Glenn Roeder. Months later, he was released by the club.

“I was devastated,” he says. “I am not one to live with regrets, but I do wish I had never broken my back. It is something I think about a lot.”

He was snapped up by Scottish side Dunfermline – despite “not having a clue where it was” – before dropping down a division to play for St Mirren.

With The Buddies, he enjoyed the happiest time of his career, helping them gain promotion to the Scottish Premier League and becoming their top goalscorer in three successive seasons, as well as appearing in a League Cup final against Rangers.

“Soon after I joined St Mirren, I caught the mumps, so I didn’t play for a long time. I ended up looking like a character from Bo’ Selecta!

“Some clubs don’t stick by you, but they did and I had a real connection with the club and the fans. Scottish people are great and I get on really well with them.”

After spending five years in Scotland, and with Turkish scouts watching him, Mehmet knew that it was time to make the step up.

Mehmet signed for Genclerbirligi in 2010, in the Turkish capital Ankara, where he thrived under manager Thomas Doll, the former Germany forward.

“It was brilliant to train under him,” Mehmet says. “It wasn’t too much of a culture shock, either, because of my dad’s background, and Michael Stewart, Mile Jedinak and Shane Smeltz were also in the squad, so I could speak English with them.”

He also had the opportunity to play against Turkey’s big three in Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas, including when Genclerbirligi met Galatasaray in one of the final games at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium, in 2011.

“We actually won 2-0 and it went crazy,” Mehmet says. “The Galatasaray fans were ripping out the seats and throwing everything on to the pitch – I didn’t know what was going on.

“The supporters in Scotland are brilliant, but football is life and death in Turkey.”

After a season in Ankara, he dropped down a division to join Samsunspor, whom he helped to promotion under future Lazio and Switzerland national team manager Vladimir Petkovic, but a wage dispute saw him head Down Under.

He took part in a trial fixture with Wellington Phoenix, but jetlag meant he put in a sub-par performance, which put him in the firing line of manager Ricki Herbert.

“He never even talked to me, but I later found out he had been saying bad things about me behind my back. If he had come up to me and been honest – because I know I wasn’t great in that game – then fine. It is about respect.”

He soon linked up with fellow A-League side Perth Glory – and promptly scored a sweet winner against Wellington.

“I ran past the bench and screamed at Herbert. To be fair, he apologised to me after the game.”

Mehmet’s nomadic travails continued after he departed Perth at the beginning of January 2013. Short spells followed with Bangkok Glass, Indian club Dempo, Malaysians Kedah and Sarawak, Tampines Rovers in Singapore, and a three-month stay with Brunei DPMM.

He returned to his paternal roots in Northern Cyprus in the summer of 2017, despite having the chance to re-join St Mirren.

“An agent contacted my brother about Merit Alsancak Yesilova, who I knew nothing about. Lomana LuaLua was there at the time, so I thought they couldn’t be a bad team, plus my dad was buzzing because I signed for a club in Northern Cyprus.

“It felt like I was giving a little something back to my family.”

Northern Cyprus is a member of CONIFA, the international governing body for football teams not associated with FIFA.

Mehmet received a call up to the national side three years ago when he took part in the CONIFA World Football Cup, scoring on his debut against Karpatalja, an administrative region in Ukraine.

He scored four goals as Northern Cyprus finished runners-up after Karpatalja beat them via a penalty shoot-out.

As Mehmet reaches the tail-end of an eventful career, he is helping to develop the next generation of footballers with his Ballers Academy.

Co-founded with his brother, Jamie, and based in south-east London, the award-winning academy has already produced the likes of Watford defender Jeremy Ngakia, Arsenal’s Joseph Oluwu and Abraham Odoh, who plays for Rochdale.

“There is so much talent in that area, so if we can bring through more, that will be brilliant.

“Football is – and has always been – my passion, so it is about me giving something back to the game.”


West Ham join queue for in-demand Hungarian but transfer master lurking

West Ham United have reportedly joined the growing number of clubs eager to sign Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai but face a formidable obstacle for his services.

Szalai, 23, moved to Turkey from Cypriot club Apollon Limassol in the January transfer window. They paid less than £2m for the centre-half and are in line to make a healthy profit if they sell. Capped eight times by Hungary, Szalai is a no-nonsense centre-back with an eye for goal.

He has already bagged three Super Lig goals for the Yellow Canaries from just 16 appearances. His displays in the Fener rearguard have caught the eye of some of Europe’s top clubs.

Aston Villa and Newcastle United have been linked while Leicester City’s name has been mentioned in connection with the player. Add to that Italian duo Napoli and Lazio and it seems obvious he will be on his way this summer.

It was stated last week that Fenerbahce want £23m for the rangy stopper. And now the Hammers can be added to his list of suitors.

David Moyes is keen to shore up his defence this summer. After being one of the most reliable backlines around, the East End outfit have begun to show signs of frailty.

They have conceded 11 goals in their past five league games, and their top-four push is faltering. Just when they needed to be solid, the Scot’s charges have lost back-to-back top-flight games.

Champions League qualification is now out of their hands and they must rely on Chelsea slipping up. Whatever happens, it has been a solid campaign and things are looking on the up.

Szalai would be an excellent addition for the Hammers who may well be playing some brand of European football next term. But, in addition to the clubs mentioned, Sevilla are said to have registered an interest, according to A Spor.

That means director of football Monchi is involved and he has a knack of getting the players he wants. The 52-year-old is a specialist in signing relatively cheap players and then selling them on for a profit.

If they can get their latest target for around £23m then he is in line to complete another sound piece of business. West Ham will hope the lure of playing in the Premier League can sway the Budapest-born starlet.

He is under contract until the summer of 2025, meaning his current club hold all the aces.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

jimbo2. 1:12 Wed Apr 28
Re: Tuesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Al!

Texas Iron 3:14 Tue Apr 27
Re: Tuesday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Thanks Alan 1:12 Tue Apr 27
Re: Tuesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
ted fenton 12:26 Tue Apr 27

ted fenton 12:26 Tue Apr 27
Re: Tuesday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan.

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