Ilunga deal completed

West Ham United are pleased to confirm the club has completed the transfer of Herita Ilunga on a permanent basis until July 2013.

The left-back, 27, had signed his contract in January and it will now take effect this summer, with West Ham United finalising the financial terms of his switch for an undisclosed fee from French club Toulouse. Ilunga has been a revelation in his first season in English football, not missing a single league match since his debut at West Bromwich Albion on 13 September. In all, he has played 33 times for the club, scoring two goals in the FA Cup ties against Barnsley and Middlesbrough.

Such was the DR Congo defender's fine form, the club were determined to exercise the option that was agreed when he first moved on a season-long loan. Ilunga is the latest player to commit his future in view of the club's positive direction under Gianfranco Zola alongside Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole, who have all agreed new deals this season, as have youngsters James Tomkins, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison and Freddie Sears.

Ilunga, who has played in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup, is eager to bring European football back to the Boleyn Ground, said: "It is a great joy for me to have signed permanently for a club that believed in me and gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League. My goal is to keep developing as a player here, working for the manager and his staff. I am very happy to be here and there is a great atmosphere with my team-mates.

"The fans here are incredible because they are always behind the team. Sometimes they help us to get the victories but even when we lose they are always there for us. They have played an important part this season and we hope to give them a special present at the end of this season by qualifying for Europe."

West Ham United CEO Scott Duxbury said: "Having agreed everything with Herita at the turn of the year, it is great that we have been able to finalise his transfer from Toulouse. Herita was a proven performer in France and there was no doubt about the quality we were getting when he arrived at the club. He has performed tremendously for us this season and Gianfranco was clear he wanted us to keep him for the long term."