Interest Confirmed

MD Paul Aldridge has confirmed the club's genuine interest in Barcelona midfielder Josep 'Pep' Guardiola - but insists there are other targets as well.

"Josep certainly interests Glenn, but at this stage there is not a great deal more to say," says Paul.

"We will have to wait and see how things develop."

Guardiola has been rewarded with by his club for 15 years service with a free transfer, but, for a current Spanish international at one of the world's biggest clubs, wages would represent a huge outlay for the 30-year-old.

He would certainly fit the midfield bill for Glenn, who is looking to replace Frank Lampard and provide some experience alongside Michael Carrick and Joe Cole in that area.

But the Hammers' chief is also very concerned about strengthening the back line, and, although a proposed deal for Pascal Cygan, the Lille centre half, looks to all intents and purposes dead and buried, Paul says: "With regards to that, you can never say never."

Lille president Francis Graille has been quoted as saying that West Ham "still have the basis for negotiation", and called the apparent breakdown "disturbing for Cygan."

It remains to be seen, however, what flexibility there will be regarding the transfer fee. 

The scenario is not dissimilar to that regarding Hannu Tihinen, who has yet to be snapped up from Viking Stavanger, where he is currently playing, despite what most people regarded as impressive performances for West Ham while on loan for three months.

At the time of his return to Norway, he called the situation "stupid", so disappointed was he at having to return to Scandinavia before the season here finished.

Even though the player himself had admitted that interest has been shown by other clubs in England - notably Middlesbrough - when he did go back, he said the Hammers would be his first choice. 

And Paul has not ruled out a bid for the Finnish international, saying: "We are monitoring the situation."