West Ham could face complications in their proposed summer deal for Saint-Etienne forward Jonathan Bamba. The player has just a few months left on his current contract, making him eligible to leave for free in the summer.
Several Premier League clubs were alerted to the player's availability, including fellow relegation rivals Crystal Palace and Newcastle. As recent as last month, it was reported David Moyes was confident of a deal, putting the Hammers in pole position to secure the forward's services.
Bamba, who can play either up front or in a support role behind the main striker, was viewed as an ideal solution for West Ham. The Hammers front line has suffered from injury and inconsistency this season, with neither Andy Carroll, Javier Hernandez or Marko Arnautovic holding a regular spot up front.
It seems Moyes may have to look elsewhere though as an upturn in form has cast doubts over any deal for Bamba. The forward now has six goals and seven assists in Ligue 1 this season, making him increasingly significant to Saint-Etienne’s fortunes.
The club now appears to have taken a spectacular U-turn on the situation and are believed to have re-entered contract negotiations with the French Under-21 international.
eneral director Frédéric Paquet was quoted by Le Progres as saying: “In the future, we’ll have to be more vigilant with contracts. We have to be able to take more risks.
“We want to keep Bamba. I think that Saint-Etienne is the perfect club for his development. Anything can happen. We’re doing our best to keep him."
Saint-Etienne manager Jean-Louis Gasset added: “If I had to give him advice...I’ve often seen cases like his. His entourage will be advising him...Of course, when you’re at your first club, when you have the chance of basically being a starter, it seems to me that it’s the best time to enjoy yourself, but the end of his contract, football abroad, it intoxicates you a bit."
The decision still rests with Bamba, which will continue to encourage West Ham, but Saint-Etienne appear ready to dig their heels in as much as possible to keep hold of their man.