Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

West Ham Threat to Duke

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

West Ham Threat to Duke

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Now Boro face fight to keep prize asset

West Ham United could emerge this week as the biggest threat to Boro's bid to hang on to prize asset Mark Viduka.

The moneybags Londoners were keen on Viduka earlier in the season, but the threat to their Premiership status put any potential move on the back-burner.

Now that the Hammers are safe, and in the knowledge they have a massive war chest to spend this summer, they could make a move.

Viduka's phenomenal finale to the season, with seven goals in his last five starts, is certain to alert other clubs.

Newcastle United, who were keen in January, may be back, though it will all depend on whether new boss Sam Allardyce fancies Viduka.

Even promoted Sunderland have been linked with an interest in Viduka.

With the sudden influx of Sky cash, every Premiership club is capable of making at least one major signing this summer.

Certainly from Gareth Southgate's point of view, this is the most difficult time.

Southgate, who knows that Viduka is vital to his bid to take the club forward next season, is hopeful he will get an answer in ten days.

Southgate said: "Mark is going to think about things. I suspect we will know in the next ten days or so.

"He heads back to Australia to link up with their team, but I do not mind how long it takes if it is the right answer from our point of view."

Viduka has always remained positive in his talks with Boro. He is happy here, and there are no problems with Boro's lucrative offer. But nobody knows if any other club will come up with a bank-busting offer in the near future.

Viduka further demonstrated his uncanny ability with two excellent finishes yesterday as Boro signed off with a 3-1 win against Fulham.

Southgate admitted his need to assess the squad when he took over last summer had caused a delay in resolving Viduka's situation, although one he hopes will not prove fatal.

He said: "With it being my first year, I suppose I wanted to assess the squad in the early part of the season and I did not want to make a decision last summer on what I was going to do with players this summer. …

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