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Israeli to make Nigerian forward his first signing...

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Avram Grant will make Yakubu his first major signing when he is appointed West Ham United manager, Goal.com UK understands.

Upton Park sources say Grant’s switch from Portsmouth is “99 per cent” completed and he will be appointed on either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, assuming that there are no last-minute hitches —
and Everton's Nigerian striker has already verbally agreed to join him at the club after the World Cup.

The Israeli is set to be given a three-year contract worth around £1.3 million-a-year, £600,000 less than his predecessor Gianfranco Zola, who was sacked earlier this month for an alleged breach of contract.

There have already been talks between Grant and West Ham officials about identifying players to replace the likes of Carlton Cole, Robert Green and Matthew Upson.

Chief executive Karren Brady reiterated again yesterday that Aston Villa target Scott Parker is not for sale but West Ham will listen to offers for the other prize assets as owners David Sullivan and David Gold attempt to slash the club’s “enormous” debts and drastically reduce their wage bill.

Sullivan is working closely with the agents Pini Zahavi, Barry Silkman and Willie McKay to bring in new players.

The east Londoners have already rejected bids from Birmingham City, Fulham and Stoke City – as well as an unnamed Italian club – for Cole because they have fallen short of their £15 million valuation.

Everton striker Yakubu has been earmarked to replace Cole after ambitious attempts to bring in Thierry Henry, Kevin Kuranyi and Sidney Govou failed.

West Ham are confident that they can prise the Nigerian from Goodison Park for around £7m. It is understood that a deal has already been agreed in principle with Yakubu’s representatives.

The club are also interested in Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara – Upson could be offered in part-exchange – and Portsmouth’s Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Sullivan said today that there is only a “10 per cent” chance of England goalkeeper Robert Green leaving but it is understood that Bundesliga club Schalke 04 are monitoring the situation closely.

Grant will be given free reign to bring in his own backroom staff after telling the West Ham board that he did not want to resume his partnership with assistant manager Steve Clarke.

The pair worked together at Chelsea but did not hit it off and Clarke, who was appointed by Zola and is believed to earn £1.2m-a-year, has been told to go.
 
Pay-off negotiations are said to be at an advanced stage. The Scot has 16 months to run on his contract but West Ham are confident that they will save money by paying Clarke off and bringing in someone on a considerably cheaper salary.

As the clear-out begins, Alessandro Diamanti and Valon Behrami have already been told to find new clubs while Guillermo Franco is a free agent after not being offered a new contract. January arrivals Ilan and Mido are also set to leave.

Meanwhile, Zola is waiting to hear from the League Managers’ Association when a date will be set for his Premier League arbitration hearing. The Italian started legal proceedings against West Ham following his dismissal.

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