Fernandes for Hammers?

Wednesday 19 December 2001

West Ham are favourites to beat Southampton to sign former Fulham loanee Fabrice Fernandes although his agent claims a deal is far from complete.

The Rennes star held talks with Southampton manager Gordon Strachan and chairman Rupert Lowe at the weekend about a move to St Mary's. But rivals West Ham have moved ahead of Saints in the race to sign the 22-year-old, with Strachan only prepared to sign him on loan at the moment, while Fernandes is seeking a permanent move.

Southampton would easily be able to afford the £1.1million fee that is being asked for the former Cottagers star, who shot to prominence last season with a brilliant goal against Manchester United in the FA Cup. But Saints appear reluctant to commit to anything more than a loan deal at this stage, which seems likely to count against them.

Fernandes is understood to have been at Upton Park discussing personal terms with Hammers boss Glenn Roeder last night and he could complete a move there by the end of the week.

But the player's agent William McKay today denied that any deal is in the offing, and hinted his client may wait for his deal at Rennes to expire before moving to England.

McKay told TEAMtalk: "The deal is not yet done. The fee will be £1.1million but there has been interest from three other Premiership clubs and four First Division sides.

"The player is contemplating waiting for his contract to expire in France."