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09th Dec 2017

West Ham co-owner claims Sam Allardyce rejected chance to sign Romelu Lukaku for £10m

"Sam said he'd take him on loan but he wouldn't buy him for that"

Robert Redmond

David Sullivan has claimed that Sam Allardyce rejected the chance to sign Romelu Lukaku for £10m when he was West Ham United manager.

Sullivan, who is the co-owner of the club, gave an interview to Jacob Steinberg in The Guardian on Friday, and reflected on the difficult past 18 months for West Ham. The club are currently in 19th place, with just 10 points from 15 games this season, and face an in-form Chelsea on Saturday at the London Stadium. It has been their worst ever start to a Premier League season – even worse than when they were relegated in 2003 and 2011.

West Ham’s move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium has proved unpopular with most of the club’s fans, and, despite investing heavily in several experienced players, the club’s form has been pretty miserable over the last year and a half.

Away supporters chanted about their dissatisfaction with the board during an away defeat to Watford last month. But Sullivan has defended his record in the transfer market, saying he has always backed his managers, and that he is considering potentially hiring a director of football, and taking the responsibility for choosing transfer targets away from the man in the dugout. Which would mean David Moyes might not get the chance to sign Steven Pienaar again.

The West Ham co-owner offered several examples of how he has always tried to back his manager, including following Sam Allardyce’s advice on Romelu Lukaku. The current Manchester United striker, who cost the club £75m from Everton last summer, was, according to Sullivan, available for a cut-price deal from Chelsea a few years ago. However, West Ham’s manager at the time wasn’t interested.

“I asked Sam if he fancied Lukaku. Sam said he’d take him on loan but he wouldn’t buy him for that. Again I’ve supported the manager,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic wanted him to sign Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart, Javier Hernandez and Pablo Zabaleta before the start of the season, so he went and signed those players.

“I regret it in a way, the first year I was more involved and the next two years I was less involved. We’ve let the manager pick who he wants,” the former Birmingham City co-owner said.

“Maybe going forward we won’t. We have to take a look at the age of the players we’re signing. We will have to bring in two or three in January. They won’t be old journeymen, they will be young players. They won’t be 32.”

Sullivan’s interview features a line that understandably provoked a reaction from a West Ham player. He claimed that his two sons “begged” him not to sign Jose Fonte and Robert Snodgrass last January.

“I’m very involved with physically bringing in the players. I’m not involved in the strategy. The manager said he wanted Fonte from Southampton and Snodgrass from Hull. My kids begged me not to sign them.”

Snodgrass joined the Hammers from Hull City for £10.8m, after netting seven goals in 20 games in the first-half of the season, but failed to replicate his form in London. After failing to score in 15 appearances, the Scottish winger was allowed join Aston Villa on-loan. He has two and a half years left on his contract with West Ham, but probably won’t be returning to the club judging by Sullivan’s comments.

He at least found the funny side of it though. Fonte is still at the club. For now, anyway.