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Zola to have final say on West Ham departures

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola is under no pressure to sell his top stars in the January transfer window, claims Hammers chief executive Scott Duxbury. "We have no intention of selling our best players, nor are we telling the manager to do so," said Duxbury.

"It may be that some players are allowed to leave but no one will be going unless the manager thinks it is in the best interests of his team and it is right for the club.

"As a club, we will look at every single approach rationally and at all times have in mind the further development of the playing squad. We must not be afraid of interest in or bids for our leading players.

"Each approach will be considered in terms of fee, fitness, form and where the manager thinks the player is in his career. Similarly we have to consider the will of the player and whether he is committed to what we are trying to achieve. This is the only way to operate.

"It may be that we have an offer that makes perfect sporting sense on all these factors but even then it will only be accepted if we have a replacement lined up who will improve the squad.

"A bid may be evaluated by the manager as allowing him to significantly improve his team. If he believes that the player in question cannot be replaced, he will not be sold.

"Players don't have to be sold but it has been clear since the arrival of Gianfranco that he is keen to have a smaller first-team squad based on quality over quantity. As I say, he looks likely to move on some fringe players in a bid to achieve a smaller squad of players that he can work closely with on a day-to-day basis.

"We are determined to strengthen this squad and keep it moving in the right direction so that we can challenge in the top half of the table.

"For example, I have had several offers in excess of £12million in the past six months for one of our key players and have turned down every single approach. No one will be sold unless it is right for West Ham United.

"Similarly, we acted efficiently to secure Dean Ashton on a new long-term contract at the start of the season and have followed that up with extended terms for Carlton Cole, Freddie Sears and Jack Collison. We have a systematic approach to player contracts and review them when the time is right. Our fans should be concerned only with who we bring in rather than worried about who leaves the club."

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