Tottenham have moved into pole position in the hunt for Charlton striker Darren Bent after the Coca-Cola Championship new boys confirmed last night he had rejected a move to West Ham.
The 23-year-old England striker was expected to sign for the Hammers tomorrow after the two clubs agreed a fee for the player.
Charlton were to receive £16m plus Hayden Mullins for the 23-year-old England international, who has top-scored for Charlton for the past two Premiership campaigns.
However, after negotiations with the Hammers, the striker has rejected a switch to Upton Park and the chance to be reunited with the man who brought him to The Valley in 2004, current Hammers boss Alan Curbishley.
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney told his club’s official website, www.cafc.co.uk: “We set a valuation for Darren and West Ham were the only club prepared to meet that valuation.
“This morning we gave them permission to speak to Darren, which he did, and he has decided not to join West Ham.
“We therefore look forward to Darren starting with us in the Championship next season, which is a massive boost to our chance of returning to the Premier League.”
A West Ham spokesman confirmed the deal was not moving forward, adding: “A fee had been agreed between West Ham and Charlton but it was not possible to reach an agreement with the player.
“West Ham have been considering a number of options in terms of a new striker for the club and will now be pursuing alternatives.”
Despite Varney’s optimism, however, Bent’s rejection of West Ham is most likely to signal a move elsewhere, with Martin Jol’s Spurs having already registered their interest.
Varney’s statement appears to suggest that the north Londoners are yet to meet Charlton’s asking price for the former Ipswich frontman, but that is a situation which could soon change.
And if Bent digs in his heels over a move away from The Valley, it is hard to see how Charlton could prevent a move for a man still harbouring international ambitions.