West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has refused to be drawn on speculation that the club failed in a bid to sign Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi in January.
It was rumoured that Batshuayi was one of Pellegrini's key targets during the winter transfer window, but a move failed to materialise. The Belgian ended up securing a loan move to Crystal Palace, who will welcome the Hammers to Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Speaking in a press conference ahead of the match, Pellegrini acknowledged the links between West Ham and Batshuayi, but refused to reveal whether the stories were true or not. He is quoted by football.london as saying: "We were linked not only with him but with another 35 or 36 players!
"He was one name linked with West Ham and I have nothing more to say. Palace have a lot of good attacking players and a good squad, so if they have brought him to the squad, it is because they think they need him and he will add to that squad."
Alongside Batshuayi, West Ham were heavily linked with a permanent move for Celta Vigo forward Maxi Gomez but, once Marko Arnautovic snubbed interest from China and renewed his contract at the club, neither move materialised.
Batshuayi featured in the last eight minutes of Palace's 2-0 victory over Fulham, and it was his shot on goal which led to the Eagles' second goal of the game. As a result, he could be set to feature from the start against West Ham, who will be desperate to keep the Belgian at bay.
Consistency has been a real concern for Batshuayi during his career. After several impressive years with Standard Liege and Marseille, he secured an expensive move to Chelsea, but failed to win over the various managers at Stamford Bridge.
A second loan spell with Valencia followed, but Batshuayi managed just three goals in 23 appearances in Spain, before seeing his deal cut short by the La Liga. He will be desperate to prove himself in the Premier League, and will look to do so at West Ham's expense on Saturday.