West Ham manager Alan Pardew has confirmed publicly for the first time he hopes to complete the signing of Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque before the transfer window closes next Thursday night.
Pardew has been chasing an attacking midfielder all summer but his interest in Malbranque, 26, cooled over the Frenchman’s wage demands, thought to have been around £40,000 a week net.
Potential moves to Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Aston Villa all went the same way – but Fulham manager Chris Coleman has taken a hard-line stance and told Malbranque he has no future at Craven Cottage.
That may have prompted Malbranque, who is in the last year of his Fulham contract, to reduce his wage demands and a £2.5million move to Upton Park is now a possibility.
“We have made it clear he is a target for us and has been (during the summer),” said Pardew.
“Conversations have taken place but there is such a complexity around that particular player – and complexities around other players – that at the moment we can’t clarify anything.
“We just think that in the next seven days (before the window closes) it will clear up and we will either secure Malbranque or another player of his stature.
“Fulham have made it very clear he is not going to play for Fulham. His future lies elsewhere and he is a quality player and I am sure there are a number of clubs interested, not just ourselves.”
Those complexities could hinge around Malbranque’s groin injury, which either requires full surgery that would leave him out for three months or a minor procedure which would sideline him for three weeks.
Pardew has made no secret of his concerns that West Ham lack depth on the wings, something that has become more evident with Yossi Benayoun and Matthew Etherington both carrying knocks into the opening week of the season.
On Friday, West Ham discover who they will face in the first round of the UEFA Cup – a competition in which Pardew believes the Hammers can make a real impression.
“We are looking for a favourable draw. I am not exactly sure what that is, to be honest, but I guess we would like to avoid one of the blue riband clubs,” said Pardew.