Tottenham Hotspur could face competition from Premier League rivals West Ham United for the signing of Michy Batshuayi after Slaven Bilic declined to rule out a move this summer. The in-demand Belgian striker is currently enjoying the best season of his short career to date, notching 18 goals in all competitions for Marseille since August.
That impressive form has attracted admiring glances from the Premier League, with Mauricio Pochettino said to have dispatched scouts to observe Batshuayi on numerous occasions as he seeks to provide competition and support for lone frontman Harry Kane. But any possible January deal was made unlikely, after L'OM manager Michel claimed the Ligue 1 outfit were not looking to sell.
A new and improved four-year contract signed by the 22-year-old in January appeared to render the chances of a switch even more remote, although the latest reports from The Mirror suggest title contenders Tottenham are still eager to sign him for £25m ($35.7m) and believe securing their place in the top four will help.
The same speculation claims the presence of former Marseille teammate Dimitri Payet has given West Ham similar hope, while long-term admirer Bilic admits he tried to buy Batshuayi during his previous stint in charge at Besiktas.
Writing in his latest column for the London Evening Standard, he said: "Speaking about the future, I see we are being linked with some top strikers for next season already — including Michy Batshuayi from Dimitri's former club, Marseille. Yes, he is a very good player and I have known him for some time, since he played for Belgian club Standard Liege before going to France.
"We tried to sign him when I was at Besiktas but it was mission impossible at that time, partly because of the transfer fee but also because he wanted to stay closer to England, Germany or Spain.
"When he joined Marseille, his game time was limited because Andre Pierre Gignac was also there. However since Gignac moved to Mexico last summer, Batshuayi has blossomed."
West Ham have dealt with numerous injuries to their current crop of strikers throughout the 2015-16 campaign to date. Diafra Sakho has yet to return from thigh surgery, Enner Valencia is dealing with an ankle knock and Andy Carroll's comeback from a hamstring strain ended with an adductor issue suffered late on against Norwich.
Fenerbahce loanee Emmanuel Emenike is expected to make his first start during the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Blackburn Rovers on 21 February and Bilic, who was linked with a move for Burak Yilmaz in January and recently sanctioned the sale of Nikica Jelavic to Beijing Renhe, admits he will need to examine the situation closely at the end of the season.
He said: "He [Batshuayi] is one of top strikers in Europe so there will be much interest if he is available. Also we have to assess the situation with our strikers because we have good ones here, some who are playing and others who are injured."