Premier League

Sam: Diame talk was agent driven

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Sat, 02 Feb 2013 11:45:00

Neil Lennon has called on Gary Hooper to sign a new contract with Celtic and end the uncertainty surrounding his future.

Hooper's future at Parkhead was the subject of intense speculation during last month's transfer window with Norwich having four bids rejected for the former Scunthorpe man.

The 24-year-old, who has 18 months to run on his current contract, has yet to sign a new deal on offer from Celtic.

The contract offer remains on the table and Lennon has urged Hooper to put pen-to-paper and extend his stay in Glasgow.

"I will need to speak to Peter Lawwell about it but the contract is still there," Lennon told the Daily Record.

"My advice to Gary would be to sign it. Whether he wanted to go now or in the summer.

"If the money is there in front of you from Celtic then take it.

"We had a chat with Gary in Marbella and he said: 'Look, I want to stay'. We will look at his position in the summer.

"I don't want to stop his progression, but we feel he has still got a lot to offer here before he moves on."

Lambert spent ?23million on new players last summer but only brought in midfielder Yacouba Sylla and winger Simon Dawkins - on loan - in January.

Supporters and some former players have questioned the outlay, even though Lambert made it clear he only had limited funds to spend.

But Lambert said: "It doesn't bother me what the ex-players think. They should know better. If they have a problem they should come and see me. But the fans have been great and I understand their frustrations.

"If you ask me if I'd like to sign a Messi or a Xavi then Jesus, yes I would have done. But you can only work with what you've got.

"We tried to do a few (deals) but the salaries, phew, they were way too high.

"We couldn't afford anyone massive. We couldn't get many loans short-term because of the salaries. Can Villa not compete with the Stoke's and Newcastle's? Yeah, that's too high for us.

"But I'll say again that Randy Lerner (club owner) has been great and I knew the remit."

Lambert insists he is unconcerned about the level of spending being carried out at some of Villa's relegation rivals, most notably QPR.

He said: "I never bother. I don't get over embroiled in something someone else can do. If Harry (Redknapp) wants to do that and thinks it's right for QPR, he's got to do what he thinks is right.

"I can only affect what I can do here. I don't think 'He's brought in somebody and he's brought in somebody.'

"You can only go with what you've got and I don't have any qualms about what other people are doing, none whatsoever.

"I think there's got to be a realism at the minute. I think that's why the fans are with us, because they can see what's going on."

Lambert hopes Sylla, signed from French club Clermont Foot, and Dawkins, who is on loan from Tottenham, are given the chance to settle and both have been added to the squad for the Premier League encounter at Everton.

Lambert, whose side have gone seven league games without a win, said: "We've got to give the new lads a chance.

"It's not like they're household names coming in and everyone knows them because they've seen them play 20 times or 30 times and they know what they'll get.

"That all comes down to it being a financial thing as well so we've got to go with what we've got and give the the lads an opportunity to get going.

"The one thing they'll do for this club is give it all they've got. That's what you expect of people.

"I've seen them both play so we know exactly what we're getting. They're young players but they'll give it everything they've got for this club and that's what you need."

The Senegal international had been linked with a number of clubs, due to a release clause written into his contract when it was penned during the summer.

The likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool were all reportedly interested in Diame, but Allardyce said no club activated the release clause and reckons agents are to blame for all of the deadline-day rumours surrounding the midfielder.

When asked if a bid had been made, Allardyce's bullish reply was: "Agent speak. It is agents trying to create a frenzy by seeing if they can make something out of nothing happen. By the fact nobody has triggered Mo Diame's clause is the reason why he is still here."

The former Blackburn boss said it was impossible to relax during transfer deadline day until 11:05pm, when he could sit with a glass of brandy, knowing he still had Diame in his squad.

Allardyce admitted it was a relief to still have Diame at the club, after the 24-year-old had impressed since completing a free transfer from Wigan before the start of the season.

"It is a massive relief to me," he said. "It wouldn't have mattered how much money we got for him yesterday or the day before. It would have been a crushing blow because we couldn't have done anything with the money we might have got for him - certainly not to the extent of replacing a player at that late stage with the quality you are looking for.

"I am really pleased he is still with us."

With the stipulation in Diame's contract, there is always a worry that a club could return to secure his services at the end of the current campaign.

And Allardyce is aware there is nothing West Ham can do about it.

"No, we have already tried that," Allardyce said, when asked if Diame's contract could be re-negotiated to remove the clause.

"At the end of the day we would wait to see what happens between now and the end of the season. Wait and see where we are and then take a view on everything and everybody at the club at that stage."

Diame was one of the Premier League's form players until he suffered a hamstring tear in the 3-2 defeat to Liverpool in December.

That ruled the former Rayo Vallecano midfielder out for over a month, but he is now back in first-team action and Allardyce is hoping he can continue to improve his game to help pull the Hammers clear of trouble.

He only joined us in the summer from Wigan and I think he has now got to continue his growth as a player," he said.

"He has got to continue extracting more and more out of his game because there's still a lot more to come. He's got to get better than he already is.

"You'll never see the best of him yet because he's only 24. He's a really good player but he'll get even better as time goes on, as long as he steers clear of injuries that is.

"He's not at the peak of his career because he's still learning. We see a very talented young man who has got to continue to grow and learn to use his abilities to greater effect."

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