West Ham United's bid for Bournemouth pair Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie has been rejected, enraged Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has confirmed. The Hammers submitted the £25m offer on the eve of the Cherries' re-arranged Premier League game at Manchester United, but Howe has labelled the timing of the offer as "bizarre".
The south coast club's last fixture of the season was moved from Sunday 15 May due to a bomb scare shortly before kick-off, forcing the team and their supporters to make a second 500-mile round trip in the space of three days. Their plight was compounded by United claiming a comfortable 3-1 win virtue of goals from Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young.
David Sullivan, the West Ham co-owner, confirmed last week that the club were planning to make an offer of a similar size for "a player in England" as they attempt to build ahead of their first season in the Olympic Stadium. That bid now appears to have been for two players, with Wilson and Ritchie those identified by the east Londoners.
Wilson made just his second start since spending six months out with a serious knee injury, against United, while Scotland international Ritchie has been key to Bournemouth's survival in the top flight this term, with four goals and six assists coming from his wand-like left foot. Howe was disappointed with the timing of West Ham's offer, which he says unsettled both players ahead of the climax to their campaign.
"We had a bid yesterday [Monday] evening," he told reports, according to Sky Sports. "The disappointing thing from my perspective is why the bid has come in a day before a game, our last game of the season. You've got the whole summer to bid for players. I don't understand that.
"I've then got two players in the squad who were due to play and a lot of speculation around their futures, so I think that was bizarre from this club's perspective. But the bid was rejected and we have no intention to sell.
"We don't need to sell. We have a really ambitious owner. We want to try and improve our squad, not weaken it. We are desperately trying to move this team forwards and looking at it the other way, bringing recruits in to strengthen what is already a good group. That's the summer we hope to have."
Havard Nordtveit became West Ham's first signing of the summer after the club confirmed he will join them on a free following the end of his contract at Borussia Monchengladbach. The club's owners have major plans to invest in the squad ahead of the move into their new 60,000 stadium, which could play host to European football next term should United win the FA Cup against Crystal Palace.