West Ham chief makes frank admission about leading summer target

By London correspondent Tony Hughes

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West Ham are unable to afford the wages of leading summer target Christian Benteke, according to co-chairman David Sullivan.

The Hammers chief confirmed that, as revealed by Football Insider last week, the high-flying Londoners are interested in signing the unsettled Belgium international.

But Benteke’s Liverpool wages, which are reported to be more than £100,000-a-week, could frighten them off as manager Slaven Bilic eyes a proven goalscorer in the summer transfer window.

Benteke is one of four strikers in the £20million bracket on the West Ham’s shortlist, with the club also monitoring Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi, Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.

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Asked about a move for Benteke, Sullivan told The Sun: “He’s a player we admire but the problem is that he is on huge wages that no club can afford.”

Bilic is in the market for a new striker as plans are put in place for West Ham to build upon what has been an outstanding debut campaign for the Croatian, who was appointed Sam Allardyce’s replacement last summer.

West Ham’s top goalscorers this season in all competitions are attacking midfield duo Dimitri Payet (11) and Michail Antonio (7), with strikers Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and Emmanuel Emenike failing to provide the regular supply of goals the club had hoped.

Striking out: Benteke has had a disappointing season at Liverpool

Sullivan added: “What we don’t have is 20-25 goal a season striker. If we did we’d be even higher up the table.

“Andy has scored some big goals this season. Four doesn’t sound much but they have been huge goals and he has made a huge impact coming off the bench. He is a ‘chaos’ player.

“Our team doesn’t need major surgery but maybe a real top, top consistent goalscorer.”

In other West Ham news, the club have completed a deal that could eventually be worth more than £29million.