West Ham appear to have hinted they have made a £20 million offer for Celtic striker Moussa Dembele.
An article on the Hammers’ official website stated that “a bid of £20m – a figure close to the club’s all-time transfer record – was submitted for a player from Scotland”.
However, a Celtic Park source has insisted that they had received no official bid for Dembele.
Hammers manager Slaven Bilic earlier refused to comment on reports that Dembele was one of his main January targets, but he had discussed his interest in Brentford striker Scott Hogan and Sunderland forward Jermaine Defoe moments earlier at a media conference.
The website article, a regular feature called “The Insider”, added that an £8million bid had been made for a Championship player and a £6million offer was issued for a Premier League player.
The so-called opinion piece comes with a qualification that the views are not necessarily those of the club but the Hammers appear to be serious about tempting Celtic to part with their prized asset.
Dembele has scored 19 goals in 36 games since arriving from Fulham in a four-year deal in the summer for a development fee of only about £500,000.
The 20-year-old further cemented his hero status among the club’s support by netting his fifth goal against Rangers in Celtic’s 2-1 victory at Ibrox on Saturday.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has consistently stated that Celtic will not sell Dembele this month and the club will likely be emboldened by the fact that Virgil van Dijk is being touted for a £50million move 18 months after leaving Parkhead for Southampton in a £13million deal.
Dembele has also shown his potential to a wider audience outside of Scotland this season, hitting a spectacular double for France Under-21s against England and scoring three times in the Champions League group stages.
Rodgers is keen to add to his squad ahead of another European campaign and Celtic are working on finalising a £2.8million move for 19-year-old Ivorian midfielder Kouassi Eboue, pictured, from FC Krasnodar.
Despite their alleged interest in Dembele, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said he believed another target, Jermain Defoe, would be the answer to his side’s goalscoring problems.
The Hammers are understood to be trying to lure their former striker back to the club from Sunderland to boost their firepower.
Defoe left West Ham 13 years ago after they were relegated from the Premier League, but could be set for a return this January if joint-chairman David Sullivan gets his way.
He may now be 34, but Defoe has shown he has lost none of his goalscoring prowess, having scored 11 times for struggling Sunderland this season.
Bilic said: “The chairman is trying really hard to get some players, if it’s going to be possible, in positions we think we need. I’m not going to talk about names in public.
“[Defoe] has the things that are the most important in a football games – that’s goals. He scored them last season, he was probably the main reason they stayed up, and then he continues to do the same this season, scoring again.
“In every game he is having chances and most of the chances he is converting into goals. He is an excellent player, of course.”
Another forward on Bilic’s radar is Brentford hot-shot Scott Hogan, who has hit 14 goals in the Championship this term.
“Scott is a good player, I’ve watched him a few times,” added Bilic. “He is scoring goals, he is very sharp, very quick, and a really good finisher. He does it in the Championship. He is really young, a really good prospect. But Hogan is not on our roster so that is it, basically.”