Hammers swoop to sign £5million Behrami

July 23, 2008

West Ham have completed the £5million signing of Switzerland international Valon Behrami from Lazio.

The 23-year-old can play at right-back or in midfield and has signed a five-year deal with the Premier League club after passing a medical.

Behrami, who has 15 caps, played in all three of his country's matches at Euro 2008 and was a regular for Lazio, playing for the Rome side in last year's Champions League.

West Ham's chief executive Scott Duxbury insists the signing of Behrami shows that reports of the club struggling to find the finances to strengthen the squad this season are nonsense.

He said: 'Valon is a player who will a valuable addition to the squad as we aim for a successful season ahead.

'His signing also indicates the club's positive ambitions. Contrary to some reports we are fully committed to strengthening the playing staff.

'There will not be a mass exodus and fans can be assured we are working as hard as always to ensure high-calibre competition in all areas of the team.'

Last week, the Hammers sold striker Bobby Zamora and defender John Pantsil to Fulham for a combined £6.3 million.

And after manager Alan Curbishley admitted to being asked to trim his staff at the end of last season, many feared there was an attempt to redress the balance of the multiple big-name signings made by the club's new Icelandic investors last term.

Before Behrami's arrival, the east Londoners had signed only two promising teenagers this summer, Homar Orn Eyjolffson from Icelandic club HK Kopavogur and midfielder Balint Bajner, a Hungarian from Romanian second division team Liberty Arad.

But while Zamora and Pantsil were let go, major new contracts were awarded to striker Dean Ashton and left back George McCartney, prompting an appeal from goalkeeper Robert Green to reappraise his own deal which he renewed a year ago.