By Tom Blackburn
Slaven Bilic has claimed that West Ham could only have beaten Chelsea to the signing of Michy Bathsuayi if they had bid for him earlier or offered more money than their London rivals.
Tottenham and the Hammers had appeared to be leading the chase for Batshuayi in June only for Chelsea to steal in and sign him for £33million on a five-year contract believed to be worth about £125,000 per week.
Bilic says that West Ham would have been much more tactful in their pursuit of the former Marseille man if they were to have had any chance of signing him.
“I don’t want to talk stories now about things that didn’t happen now,” he said when asked how close West Ham came to signing Batshuayi, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.
“I said it openly, we tried to get at the beginning one of the top strikers of the moment and they opted for a bigger club and also better money of course, but at the end we bought what we wanted to, I’m happy.
“I said a few weeks ago to the chairman and (chief scout) Tony Henry that if we want to go big game fishing there are two conditions for us to compete with the big clubs – if we go early or if we put more money in.
“Then we might have had a chance, on paper, with those great ones. But we didn’t do that. Then it is almost impossible to get the player.”
West Ham begin their Premier League campaign with a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Bathsuayi and Chelsea on Monday night.
The Belgium international scored 24 goals and supplied 10 assists in 51 matches in all competitions for Marseille last season, including 17 goals and nine assists from 36 Ligue 1 encounters.
Chelsea will be hoping he can repeat that form under new manager Antonio Conte, while West Ham will aim find the net with their own big-money forward signing.
Bilic adjusted his sights elsewhere after losing out on Batshuayi and the Hammers signed Andre Ayew from Swansea last week for a club-record £20.5million.
Ayew became Slaven Bilic’s seventh signing of the summer following the arrivals of Gokhan Tore, Sofiane Feghouli, Toni Martinez, Havard Nordtveit, Ashley Fletcher and Domingos Quina.
In other West Ham transfer news, a Serie A side make an approach for a West Ham midfielder and a bid is ready to be tabled.