Hammers pledge Zola transfer veto

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West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury insists manager Gianfranco Zola is under no pressure to sell his top stars in the January transfer window.

Striker Craig Bellamy is already a target for their London rivals Tottenham but Duxbury is aiming to end the days of West Ham being described as a 'selling club'.

However, the club aim to reduce their playing squad in terms of numbers with more emphasis on quality instead of quantity and Duxbury said: "We have no intention of selling our best players, nor are we telling the manager to do so."

He added: "It may be that some players are allowed to leave but no one will be going unless the manager thinks it is in the best interests of his team and it is right for the club.

"As a club, we will look at every single approach rationally and at all times have in mind the further development of the playing squad. We must not be afraid of interest in or bids for our leading players.

"Each approach will be considered in terms of fee, fitness, form and where the manager thinks the player is in his career. Similarly we have to consider the will of the player and whether he is committed to what we are trying to achieve. This is the only way to operate.

"It may be that we have an offer that makes perfect sporting sense on all these factors but even then it will only be accepted if we have a replacement lined up who will improve the squad.

"A bid may be evaluated by the manager as allowing him to significantly improve his team. If he believes that the player in question cannot be replaced, he will not be sold.

"Players don't have to be sold but it has been clear since the arrival of Gianfranco that he is keen to have a smaller first-team squad based on quality over quantity. As I say, he looks likely to move on some fringe players in a bid to achieve a smaller squad of players that he can work closely with on a day-to-day basis.

"We are determined to strengthen this squad and keep it moving in the right direction so that we can challenge in the top half of the table."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Craig Bellamy
Premier League
Gianfranco Zola
West Ham United

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