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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
West Ham block Defoe move
Jermain Defoe wants to leave West Ham
Defoe wants out at West Ham

West Ham have turned down Jermain Defoe's transfer request.

The England Under-21 striker made a written application to leave Upton Park on Monday - less than 24 hours after the club's relegation was confirmed.

Manchester United have been linked with Defoe but the Hammers have now told the 20-year-old - who has two years left on his contract - that he cannot quit.

Managing director Paul Aldridge told the Hammers website: "I can confirm we are not accepting Jermain Defoe's request to be put on the transfer list.

"Jermain is a smashing lad from a good family, we have a good relationship with him and them, and it is unfortunate that he has received advice to put in a request at this time.

I would caution our supporters to be patient with Jermain
Hammers MD Paul Aldridge

"That advice has led to criticism from supporters and work colleagues alike.

"I can understand that given the timing, and added to the fact that a story linking him to another club was leaked to a newspaper on the morning of one of our most important games for years.

"I would, however, caution our supporters to be patient with Jermain.

"We do not believe this situation would have arisen if he was still represented by the PFA, rather than the agency SFX to whom he has now moved."

Aldridge re-iterated that West Ham wanted to "retain the bulk of our first team talent" despite dropping into Division One.

He said that because some players would be out of contract anyway this summer - such as Lee Bowyer - there would be a natural lowering of the wage bill.

That could mean stars such as Defoe will not have to be sold.

Defoe had said on Monday: "As much as I love West Ham United I feel that now is the right time for me to move on in my career.

"This is very much a career decision.

"I am very ambitious and hungry to achieve at the highest levels of the game for both club and country.

"The club staff and especially the fans are very dear to me and have been unbelievable in the early part of my career.

"It will always be a special place for me to play."

That brought a stream of criticism from inside and outside Upton Park, with Hammers goalkeeper David James admitting the timing of the transfer request was "not helpful".

Defoe joined West Ham from Charlton nearly four years ago and flourished in a loan spell at Bournemouth in 2000-01, netting 19 goals in 29 games.

He made an impact in his first season in West Ham's first team, scoring 14 goals in a campaign which saw the Hammers finish seventh in the Premiership.




VOTE RESULTS
Will West Ham bounce straight back into the Premiership?
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