West Ham United are expected to step up their interest in Southampton striker Rickie Lambert, with ESPN sources confirming that the England striker would be interested in the move.
Lambert has been the talisman of Southampton’s rise from the third tier of English football into a Premier League force since Alan Pardew signed him for the Saints back in 2009, scoring more than a century of goals for the south coast club.
His fairy tale rise to the top was completed as he earned an England call-up last year, with his hopes of making the cut for the Roy Hodgson’s final squad for next summer’s World Cup finals very much alive after a solid season in the Premier League.
News that he may be entering his final days at Southampton will be a further blow to supporters who are already concerned that the departure of executive chairman Nicola Cortese on Wednesday threatens the stability of the club.
Cortese’s exit may well be swiftly followed by that of manager Mauricio Pochettino, who had vowed to quit if the executive chairman left the club.
An ESPN FC source said Lambert will consider a move to West Ham despite their current relegation concerns and uncertainty over the future of boss Sam Allardyce, with a final lucrative move appealing to the 31-year-old target man.
West Ham’s initial approach to sign Lambert was made in mid-December, a source said. The encouragement the London club were given by Saints officials fuelled their hope that a deal can be struck, especially now that Cortese has left Southampton and the club in in something of a state of flux, the source said.
Lambert’s arrival would be a massive boost to West Ham, who have been desperately short of strikers all season after they spend much of their summer transfer kitty on Andy Carroll, who has played just 18 minutes of first team football all season.