West Ham co-owner David Sullivan has claimed it was a "backhanded compliment" that the club failed to sign any players during the January transfer window, suggesting Tottenham blocked Emmanuel Adebayor's move to Sam Allardyce's side as Spurs "now viewed them as rivals that shouldn't be dealt with".
Several reports on deadline day assured the Hammers had agreed personal terms with the Togo striker but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy refused to bolster a direct rival and eventually blocked the deal – even though Adebayor looks out of favour with manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Nevertheless, West Ham are eighth in the table, just four points behind Spurs, while during the first part of the campaign they were even ahead of their London rivals.
Sullivan has now made an official statement to clarify the situation and even though he doesn't mention Adebayor's name it is believed he is referencing him when saying: "We thought we had one experienced Premier League striker lined up, only for his club to pull out of the deal at the last minute.
"I think we take the reasons they gave as a backhanded compliment, with our improvements on the field and our increased success off it meaning we are now viewed as rivals that shouldn't be dealt with!"
West Ham midfielder Alex Song has also lamented Tottenham's apparent block of the deal, having played alongside Adebayor at Arsenal during the 2007-2008 season.
"I think if he was coming it would be very good for us – he is a great player," Song told Sky Sports.
"I played with him for five years, I know what he can do. So when someone told me he had the potential to come to West Ham I was very happy because this kind of player can help us contribute to doing very well in the league – we need a person just like this."
Meanwhile Sullivan explained that as a result of Adebayor's failed signing, West Ham was forced to stop Carlton Cole's departure to West Bromwich Albion, while also considering bringing back Mauro Zarate from QPR after loaning the Argentinian to the London rivals earlier in the January transfer window.
"Further forward, it was widely reported that Carlton Cole was in talks to join West Bromwich Albion, but we made clear he could only leave if a suitable replacement was found.
"Finally, we looked into the possibility of Mauro Zarate returning from loan, with Matt Jarvis going the other way in search of more first-team football, but that deal was ruled out by the Premier League once it seemed set to go through."
The West Ham co-owner also revealed the club were trying to sign a defender until the very last minute with some reports claiming they were interested in Younes Kaboul.
"We prioritised that position [a centre-back] and targeted two experienced Premier League defenders but could not reach an agreement with them over the length of their deals.
"We then appeared to have reached an agreement with a rising star central defender from overseas, but that deal fell through at the eleventh hour as his club would not have had time to replace him. We do rate the player so it could be that we look to resurrect our interest again at the end of the season."