By Tony Hughes
Slaven Bilic has revealed that Carlos Bacca rejected a move to West Ham because he wanted to join Arsenal or Atletico Madrid.
The Mirror claimed at the end of July that the Hammers had increased their bid for AC Milan forward Bacca to £27million and offered him a four-year contract worth £70,000-a-week.
However, the Colombia international rejected a move to the London Stadium in order to remain at Milan for another season.
West Ham manager Bilic admitted Bacca was one of four key striker targets for his club this summer before they eventually signed Simone Zaza in a loan-to-buy deal that is set to smash their transfer record.
“Yes, at the beginning, Bacca turned down a transfer to us, I’ve got no problems admitting it,” Bilic told Milan News, as quoted by the website of Sky Italy journalist Gianluca Di Marzio. “In this transfer window, we tried to raise the technical bar by signing players which would have been unthinkable for our club a few years ago.
“[Alexandre] Lacazette, Zaza, Bacca and [Michy] Batshuayi were on our list but we knew it would be difficult to sign them.
“We initially wanted Zaza but Juve weren’t willing to sell him, then we had Lacazette on our radar as well as Bacca.
“We weren’t the Colombian’s first choice, he was waiting for Atletico and Arsenal, in the end he chose to stay in Milan, we are very happy as we signed Zaza who a year ago was our first choice”.
Bacca, 29, joined AC Milan from Sevilla last summer for a fee of £22million after his release clause was activated and is contracted to the Italian giants until 2019.
The 33-time capped international starred for the Italian giants last season where he scored 20 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions.
Although the Hammers are keen to bring in a striker, their squad still holds Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho, Andre Ayew (currently injured) and Ashley Fletcher, and they may have to move on one of Sakho or Valencia to bring in another forward player.
The Hammers have struggled to find the net after their qualifying games against NK Domzale, which saw them win 4-2 on aggregate.
Proceeding the clash against the Slovenia side, they have lost 2-1 against Chelsea and also suffered a disappointing 1-1 draw against Astra on Thursday evening.
In other West Ham transfer news, the club are close to agreeing an £18million defender deal.