LONDON (Reuters) – West Ham United have beaten Premier League rivals Everton in the race for Leeds United defender Sam Byram, the London club’s co-chairman David Sullivan said on Tuesday.
“We hoped to sign Byram in the summer when he was out of contract at Leeds,” Sullivan told Sky Sports television.
“But in the last few days it looked like he was going to Everton so we realised it was now or never.
“We had to pitch in and attempt to sign him and hopefully that will go through in the next 24 hours. Everything is in agreement with him and the club.
“I would not normally say this, but the Leeds chairman has made it public, because I think it is wrong to mention what you are doing until it is actually done… but we’ve agreed terms with Leeds, we’ve agreed terms with the player.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez had said last week that they had made ‘an approach’ for the 22-year-old amid media reports that second tier Leeds had accepted a four million pound ($5.66 million) bid.
However, subsequent reports said Byram, who has family in London, had favoured a move to the Hammers over a switch to Merseyside.
Sullivan would not comment on media speculation that West Ham had also enquired about Watford’s top scoring Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo.
“We are looking long-term for a 20 goal a season striker,” he said. “There’s a possibility that a striker will come in on loan in the next seven days, with an option to buy him. He’s an overseas striker.”
Sullivan said that player, if secured, would come from “a very strange league” but the player had played in “higher leagues”.
West Ham, who are due to move into London’s Olympic Stadium next season, are currently flying high under Croatian manager Slaven Bilic.
Sullivan played down the chances of his club, in sixth place after 22 matches and nine points behind leaders Arsenal, of securing a top four finish and the prospect of playing in the Champions League.
“If we’re going to get in the Champions League, we’d have to get a result on Saturday (at home against Manchester City) and Man City are the firm favourites to beat us. But it’s not impossible.
“We say dare to dream. And I think where we are now, it’s more likely than where we were at the start of the season.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)