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By ESPN Staff

West Ham 'can be bigger than Chelsea'

Businessman Kia Joorabchian claims West Ham have the potential to overtake Chelsea and Manchester United to become the biggest club in England by 2013.

The man who brought Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Corinthians to Upton Park has already insisted there are no plans to offload them at the end of the season.

There has been speculation both players will leave for Chelsea or Manchester United with Joorabchian - having agreed a sell-on clause with West Ham - making a tidy profit.

However Joorabchian has been strongly linked with a takeover at West Ham, and the club have confirmed to the stock exchange they have been involved in 'exploratory discussions' with regard to a change of ownership.

Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili, a friend of Joorabchian, has confirmed his interest.

Joorabchian told the News of the World: 'I believe in the very near future West Ham can become bigger than Chelsea and maybe within seven years even challenge Manchester United.

'And certainly I feel manager Alan Pardew can take West Ham into new territory, to challenge for the Champions League and even the title.

'Manchester United are obviously an exception. Like Real Madrid they are huge all over the world but there is massive potential at West Ham. Why? Because the club has such passionate supporters and a fantastic history. As far as I'm concerned they have got a much bigger worldwide fan base than Chelsea.

'That goes back to part of the history of the club - having three World Cup winners in Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.'

Argentina pair Tevez and Mascherano looked to be heading for European giants until West Ham announced the double deal on Thursday.

Joorabchian said: 'When you see two players like that joining West Ham then there is no doubt in my mind the club can become massive.'

Meanwhile, Tevez is confident he has made a good move for the sake of his career.

'From the moment I arrived in England the most concrete thing was West Ham,' said the 22-year-old striker.

'Other teams were interested but they already had three or four players in my position.

'What I need is to be playing to get used to English football, to find my rhythm with West Ham.

'At this time I'm not worried about playing for a bigger club.'