With the Euros over and the Premier League season upon us, social media and clickbait sites have targeted the vulnerable emotions of the West Ham faithful with rumours and speculation aimed at drama and upheaval surrounding our stability.
The bread and butter for media outlets surrounds the usual culprits of our insecurity including unlikely takeover bids that happen every time season tickets sales open, to fevered whispers of Declan Rice’s imminent departure, and most recently and out of left field – ‘Vladimir Coufal’s frustration with his contract’.
One of the top contenders for Hammer of the Year and new fan favorite, Czech hard man Vlad is a likely target for media outlets wanting fan attention.
West Ham supporters have overwhelmingly been excited about Coufal as he represents the gritty no nonsense defender of the past similar to beloved fullback Julian Dicks, and having played 34 of 38 matches – as much as was possible for him – this favoured view is more than supporter sentiment; It represents a real talent necessary to the success of West Ham’s future ambitions.
Coufal silenced Jamie Vardy in his debut performance earning a 3-0 clean sheet away from home at Leicester, and has terrorised other wingers like wunderkind-turned-pro Jack Grealish when we battled Aston Villa.
To every rumour there is truth, and although the player hasn’t come out with any public statements about his contract, there are negotiations happening between the club and his agents at K2k Sports entertainment group managed by Karol Kisel and Martin Latka over compensation for his emeritus performances.
This is bound to happen with any buzz that surrounds a player, owners not wanting other clubs to present offers or turn the player’s head and there will be a level of merit that is rewarded to increase positive performances.
Coufal joined from Slavia Prague in the early part of the 20/21 season for a bargain price of £5.4 million on a three-year deal with an option for two more years that favoured the club.
His salary went from £2,500 a week at Slavia Prague to £27,000 a week at West Ham for a total net of £1,404,000 a year.
Our owners are under no obligation to increase a contract that has three years left on its term, but have suggested performance and appearance bonuses as reward and motivation.
Coufal’s camp would prefer to see an increase in wage to match the plaudits he has garnered for his performances and similar salaries in the Premier League for high performers. Coufal was also impressive for the Czech Republic at the Euros.
This could begin a greater conversation about player power and how the success of any club is based on the necessity of finite players who can increase their contract with threats to leave, while clubs have no power in reducing player’s high wages if they aren’t performing such as Felipe Anderson, or if they are injured such as Winston Reid or ex-Hammer Jack Wilshere, who without kicking a ball for months at a time can make anywhere from £80k to £150k.
But I think West Ham fans should look past all of this drama as nothing more than one business in West Ham, talking to another business, in Coufal’s representatives, where both parties are trying to benefit themselves.
In this day and age, some parts of the media have tried to exploit it to gain readership from West Ham fear to benefit themselves.
Coufal is known for his humble demeanor and has conducted himself thus far and we shouldn’t read anything else into it.
Regardless of rumours, Vlad has become a West Ham favourite by locking down the opposition’s left wing, as well as marauding forward and providing service second only to Cresswell for assists from defenders.
He did this all with a quietly fierce demeanour, and what seemed a rapturous awe for the Premier League, and his newly found love of West Ham United.
To find a player who gives full battle on the field for the badge, mourns losses, and seems to respect the club is to find love in the hearts of West Ham faithful.