First Summer Signing

West Ham have made their first signing of the summer.

18-year-old French striker Youssef Sofiane has joined from Auxerre, where he has spent the last four seasons progressing through the ranks.

Although he has not played for the first team at Auxerre, he has represented France at under-15, under-16, under-17, and under-18 levels - and there was quite a contingent of clubs around the continent who were keen to sign him.

Says Youssef: "I know there were quite a few other clubs after me but I am very happy to be here. Auxerre is behind me and there were no problems with the transfer.

"This is a challenge for me - I am looking forward to the 4th of July when we start training."

Youssef effectively replaces Paul Kitson as a back-up striker, but is impatient to break through into first team action as soon as he can.

The pacy forward adds: "The aim was not to go to a massive club straight away, as I wanted to make a more gradual progression. West Ham is a club at a good level which will allow me to break through much more quickly than at, say, Arsenal or Manchester United.

"Of course West Ham is a big club, but I have got a lot more chance of getting in the first team here than if I was competing against Thierry Henry or someone.

"My aim is to get in the side next year as quickly as possible, and I have a greater chance of playing here than in France - the style of play suits me more here than there, with the speed of the game."

* Photo courtesy of Steve Bacon.