Hammers return to pre-season
The bulk of the West Ham United squad returned to training for pre-season yesterday, as trips to Austria, Germany and Iceland await. However, the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Jose Fonte who have been on international duty will return to Rush Green in the coming weeks. The players who did return to East London yesterday included stars like new-signing Pablo Zabaleta, Mark Noble, Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna and they were put through their paces by newly appointed Head of Medical Gary Lewin in fitness testing. Slaven Bilic and his men are set to travel out to Austria in the next couple of weeks, before travelling across the border to Germany where we will face Werder Bremen in a two-legged Betway Cup fixture followed by a friendly against German Fourth Division outfit Altona 93. The boys will then make their final trip of pre-season to Iceland for a historic friendly with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. So, how will Slaven Bilic’s men fare in the next few weeks, as pre-season kicks in?
Ogbonna praises Hammers faithful
Our Italian centre back Angelo Ogbonna has praised The Claret and Blue army after signing a new 5-year-deal at The London Stadium. The former Juventus man signed the bumper contract last week, amid rumours of a possible return to Serie A in his native Italy. However, the 29-year-old decided to commit his future to us and gave clues as to why in a recent interview with WHUFC TV, when he remarked: “I cannot compare our fans with any other fans because we are West Ham, we are more than a club and we are a family”. The physical centre back was signed by Slaven Bilic in summer 2015, impressing in his first season and scoring the vital last gasp winner in our F.A Cup Fourth Round replay against Liverpool. Ogbonna had his 2016/2017 season cut short by a forced operation on a knee injury, but made his first-team return in the final day victory over Burnley. Now, with the former Torino man returning to training, he will be looking forward to another long and prosperous season in Claret and Blue.
Antonio welcomes new girl Stobbs
Our England international forward Michail Antonio has formally welcomed new Ladies signing Amber Stobbs with a tour around Rush Green this week. Antonio recently became a West Ham United Ladies ambassador and is heavily involved with The West Ham United Foundation, with fellow London born winger Stobbs will take up a similar role within the Foundation as Women and Girls Officer. The former Reading Ladies forward explained the ambitions of the Ladies team to the 2016/2017 top scorer, in that the club aim to be in The Women’s Super League in the next five years. Under the complete re-structure of the Women’s outfit with Jack Sullivan as Managing Director, the future certainly does look bright for West Ham United ladies and the women’s game as a whole.
Transfer gossip: Bilic targets double striker swoop
According to Sky Sources, we have held talks with Bayer Leverkusen over the possible signing of former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez. It is understood that the Mexico international has a release clause of £13 million in his contract. The rumours have been ramped up in the last few days, as the talks have taken place with Gold and Sullivan, as they are reportedly ready to activate the clause. Hernandez has netted 38 times in the last two seasons for the Bundesliga outfit and impressed at the recent Confederations Cup with Mexico. So, could we pull off one of the signings of the season and finally bring “The Little Pea” to The London Stadium?
It has also been rumoured this week by The Express that Slaven Bilic has launched a £15 million bid for Burnley forward Andre Gray. The rumours come in the light of the supposed recent failed signings of Anthony Modeste, Cedric Bakambu and Olivier Giroud. The 26-year-old notched nine Premier League goals last season, as Burnley managed to stay up in their first season back in the top flight. However, the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool are also understood to be interested in the former Brentford man. Only time will tell whether we are able to fight of fierce competition to sign one of the brightest young English forwards in the game.
Valencia set for Mexico return
It has been reported this week by Sky Sports News HQ that our Ecuadorian forward Enner Valencia has almost completed his move back to The Liga MX with Tigres. The Ecuador international was signed for a fee of around £15 million by Sam Allardyce in summer 2015, but struggled to settle into life in The Premier League in his first two seasons. Valencia was loaned out to Ronald Koeman’s Everton for the season last August and failed to impress The Toffees boss enough to sign him on a permanent basis. However, the 27-year-old has been attracting interest in South America and after having an initial bid rejected, Tigres now look set to complete the signing of the former Pachuca man. So, with Valencia heading to the exit for around £7 million, will we be able to use the money to finally purchase another striker?