There have been a number of exciting new faces that have rocked up at the Boleyn Ground this summer but there is one signature fans still desire — the one confirming the long-term future of key defender Winston Reid.
Having joined from Danish side Midtjylland in August 2010, the New Zealander didn’t exactly enjoy the most productive maiden campaign in England. He amassed just seven league appearances as Avram Grant failed to deliver. With relegation confirmed and a change of manager pending, Reid’s future at Upton Park was far from assured.
A year of Championship football was the best medicine for Reid and he quickly emerged as a key figure as the Hammers bounced back in to the Premier League. A string of fine individual performances ensured the young defender cemented his place as a first-team regular with a memorable strike against fierce rivals Millwall making him a hero amongst the Boleyn Ground faithful.
Fast forward two seasons, Reid is now an accomplished Premier League defender who regularly draws plaudits from fans and media alike. Extended interest from Arsenal highlights just how highly the 26-year-old is regarded and there is absolutely no question the Hammers backline is a far stronger unit with him at the heart of it.
Despite being limited to just 22 Premier League appearances due to injury, Reid helped West Ham keep 10 clean sheets during 2013/14. The club registered just four in the 16 games without him and under no circumstance will Allardyce want to lose this integral part of his blueprint for success. Unfortunately, it would appear getting Reid to commit his long-term future to the club has proved difficult for the management and he now has less than a year to run on his current deal.
The thought of losing a key member of the squad is now fast becoming a very real possibility for Allardyce and a solution must be reached immediately. The stalwart centre-half has eagerly voiced his belief the club can produce big results in 2014/15 and has also previously declared his excitement at the prospect of wearing the claret and blue at the Olympic Stadium.
However, those public statements of devotion have yet to be backed up by a new contract and it’s becoming a growing cause for concern — especially as the manager and owners have made no secrets about their desire to secure the player’s long-term future. Back in July, co-owner David Sullivan confirmed Reid had rejected the club’s offer of an extended deal. Sullivan expressed his view a deal would soon be reached but everyone is still waiting on an announcement.
The club did very well to stave off the attempts of Arsenal and Everton during the summer transfer window but Reid’s contract saga remains a key issue which needs to be resolved. With Reid seemingly on the verge of entering his prime years, it would be simply scandalous to let a player of this quality leave on a free next summer but if a deal hasn’t been brokered by Christmas then the player may well begin to open discussions with other teams.
Alternatively, the Kiwi star could depart in January but with six months remaining on his contract, West Ham could hardly command a huge transfer fee and losing such a key element of the defensive unit midway through the season could have a truly devastating impact — the minimal remuneration would scarcely be worthwhile. From the club’s perspective, the only satisfying outcome would be to see the player sign an extended deal.
If this were to happen, Reid will continue to be a key member of the squad for the foreseeable future and it would put the board in a much stronger position should a time come where they have to allow the defender to leave. Rejecting the previous offers doesn’t mean Reid wants to leave and it’s probably fair to assume that the main point of negotiation comes down to salary. Money talks and the board may have to spend it to keep the dominating central defender in east London.
Reid is a vital part of Allardyce’s plans and nobody can begrudge him for demanding a salary reflecting this. Securing the services of Andy Carroll on a permanent deal was a massive coup for the club, regardless of the unfortunate string of injuries, but breaking the wage structure was always going to carry the risk of upsetting the status quo and perhaps the case of Reid is an example of disharmony surfacing.
Those potential problems probably won’t be enough to hinder the club’s progression but, in an era where player power is greater than ever, it could consequently cost the owners a fair chunk of money if they are serious about moving the club forward on the pitch as well off it. There is absolutely no doubt that Reid will continue to wear the claret and blue with pride regardless of the situation behind the scenes but everybody associated with the club would love to see him to stay long enough to join us in our new home.
Ultimately, the owners are unlikely to find a suitable replacement without splashing the cash and should do everything in their power to keep hold of this integral asset. Let’s hope an agreement is imminent.