Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bellamy storms out after Hammers reject Tottenham's £12m offer

Craig Bellamy is unlikely to play for West Ham United against Fulham tomorrow after a "breakdown in the relationship" between the striker and his club which resulted in him turning down a contract extension and angrily walking out before training yesterday, an executive at Upton Park has revealed.

Reports last night said that Bellamy was refusing to play tomorrow and had cleared items from his locker at the training ground after a meeting with Scott Duxbury, the West Ham chief executive, at which the Wales captain was informed of a bid made for him by Spurs and was also offered the contract extension.

The 29-year-old was dismayed to hear that the offer from Spurs had been turned down. And, having rejected the fresh contract, Bellamy's mood was deepened when he was then refused permission to speak with the north London club. He left without training, although that is optional two days before a match.

"The club made it clear that to the manager, Gianfranco Zola, and board he remains a West Ham player," the executive said. "It is clear, at the moment anyway, that there is a breakdown in the relationship. That might change, of course." Would Bellamy play against Fulham? "It's unlikely," he added. "Ultimately that's an issue for the manager but if his head's not right, if it's all over the place, then the view from the training ground is likely to be that he won't be in the team."

Bellamy is said to have taken the matter out of Zola's hands by effectively going on strike in the hope of forcing through a move to Spurs. Despite Manchester City making at least three bids, Bellamy favours White Hart Lane because he believes there will be a guarantee of first-team football at Spurs whose latest offer is thought to have been around £12m. Zola appears increasingly resigned to losing Bellamy, who may well have played his last game for West Ham. "I want to keep him and the club want to keep him," he said. "But if a player wants to go it is difficult."

The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, has certainly not given up hope of getting Bellamy. "I hear Bellamy has said he wants to come to Tottenham rather than City so we'll see how that develops," he said. West Ham officials have privately complained that Tottenham's interest has unsettled Bellamy. That follows similar complaints from Sunderland and Middlesbrough, who grumbled about Spurs' transfer tactics, rejecting bids for Kenwyne Jones and Stewart Downing respectively.

"We've done nothing wrong," said Redknapp. "Our chairman rang up their clubs' chairmen and asked if we could buy those players. They said 'No' and that's that. We did it all in private, it's not our fault it got into the public. But that's the way of the world now, everyone's got people they talk to and things always seem to get out."

Jose Mourinho, the Internazionale manager, has made known his interest in Jermaine Jenas but Redknapp said he would not sanction the midfielder's sale: "He [Mourinho] never said that to me but if he did I'd tell him Jenas is not for sale."

Redknapp hopes to strengthen his midfield by signing Wilson Palacios from Wigan. Steve Bruce, the Wigan manager, said the clubs had "virtually agreed a fee", understood to be about £13m, and that it only remained for a payment structure to be settled. However, there are suggestions that Manchester United or their neighbours City will try to hijack the deal.

Tomorrow Spurs host Portsmouth and Redknapp pre-empted the jeers he is likely to get from Pompey fans angry at his defection from Fratton Park to Spurs: "I think most Portsmouth fans know I did a great job there, but you'll always get a few loons who want to shout abuse."

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