Daniel Sturridge looks unlikely to complete a surprise move to West Ham before the end of the January transfer window, after Hammers manager Slaven Bilic dismissed reports of his supposed interest in a deal. The Liverpool striker has once again been plagued by injury this season, with a combination of problems restricting him to just six appearances in all competitions.
After initially being ruled out until September 2015 following hip surgery, Sturridge was further sidelined by knee and foot issues before suffering a hamstring strain after coming on as a second-half substitute during the 2-0 loss at Newcastle United in December. He has not trained with the first-team squad for six weeks due to several setbacks in his recovery and a return to action seems some way off, after Jurgen Klopp confirmed he had "no chance" of featuring during the FA Cup third-round replay victory over Exeter City.
Despite those well-documented fitness issues, however, the player featured in several gossip columns this week after speculation from the Brentwood Gazette claimed West Ham were ready to submit an offer worth £18m ($25.3m) to secure his services as the club desperately seek to sign another striker.
Bilic has swiftly denied that speculation ,however. As quoted by The Mirror at a press conference held prior to the visit of Manchester City on 23 January, he said: "That is only a rumour and there is nothing behind it. I am not talking about who we want – Daniel Sturridge is a big player and a big name – but that is only paper talk.
"What if? I would take Lionel Messi also, but it is only an 'if' so there is nothing in it," the Hammers boss added when asked whether he would have an interest in the event that Sturridge did become available.
While the arrival of Sturridge seems incredibly unlikely, one player who has joined West Ham this week is Sam Byram. The talented right-back signed a four-and-a-half-year contract at Upton Park after leaving Leeds United for an undisclosed fee, with the move coming soon after Everton had reportedly agreed their own deal.
Bilic denied that he had hijacked the Toffees' agreement, adding: "We didn't react on Everton's interest. We have been tracking Sam for a long time. Not only Everton but other clubs wanted him, we didn't just jump in after we heard other clubs were interested – although according to TV, he was close to signing for Everton."