West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has denied the club wanted to sell striker Andy Carroll to a club in the Chinese Super League on the final day of the transfer window. The England striker was linked with a move to the big-spending division on the final day of trading on 28 February, ahead of this week's visit of Chelsea, but remains at the London Stadium until at least the rest of the season.
The Times understand the Hammers gave an agent permission to sell Carroll to a side in China, though representative Andrew Pincher was unable to complete the deal. The 28-year-old is now expected to play a full part in the rest of the club's campaign but his future beyond the end of the campaign is deeply uncertain.
Carroll has scored six league goals in nine starts this season, including a goal-of-the-season contender against Crystal Palace in January. Despite missing the club's last two games with a groin problem – the latest in a string of injury issues – he has returned to training and is in contention to face Premier League leaders Chelsea on Monday [6 March].
"No way, no way," Bilic said, according to Sky Sports. "He's one of our best players and we want to keep him. We wouldn't want to sell him to China. Andy has been training with us and it's been good.
"I'm very optimistic about him playing against Chelsea. He has trained individually for a few days and has done everything. He joined us yesterday and this is not a usual press conference before a game – we still have four days (until the Chelsea game). He is training today and it looks good."
Bilic will however be without defender Angelo Ogbonna, who has been out since January after undergoing knee surgery, and striker Diafra Sakho who has only played twice this term due to two back problems and a hamstring issue, against Chelsea Both players however are on the road to recovery, with Sakho potentially available to West Ham before the end of the season.
"Of course, that is a big blow for us. It is only Sakho and Ogbonna who are out, but we knew that before," he added. "Sakho is travelling tomorrow to see a specialist in Bordeaux, just to give him the green light to push up more, because he is doing very well. If he progressed like he did so far he could be available in three or four weeks. Angelo is doing really well after his surgery on his knee. Apart from that, just small knocks like you have in a club."