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Munir unsure on future amid striker talk

By ESPN Staff

Pardew purrs over deals for Tevez and Mascherano

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Argentina's Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano will take West Ham United to a new level, manager Alan Pardew said when he welcomed his new signings to Upton Park on Tuesday.

The pair were a sensational transfer coup last week for the Premier League club, echoing the capture 28 years ago of Argentine World Cup winners Ossie Ardiles and Ricardo Villa by fellow London side Tottenham Hotspur.

'We want to challenge the big teams in this division and this is a route to do that,' Pardew told a news conference at Upton Park with the players, both 22, sitting either side.

'As a team manager I want to work with the best players in the world...I think these guys are going to take us forward,' he said, describing the pair as world class.

'I thought it was a fantastic move for us, to take us to the next level -- let's accept it for what it is.'

West Ham signed striker Tevez and midfielder Mascherano, who shone for Argentina at this year's World Cup, from struggling Brazilian champions Corinthians.

Corinthians were bought in 2004 by investment group MSI, who had talks to buy West Ham last year which came to nothing.

On Tuesday, however, former MSI president Kia Joorabchian, now an independent private investor who retains an interest in Tevez and Mascherano, issued a statement to the London stock exchange saying a deal for the club was still possible.

'Following recent press speculation, Kia Joorabchian wishes to clarify that he has not ruled out the option of making a bid for West Ham United PLC but, due to a recent family bereavement, the immediate focus of his attention is on family matters,' the statement read.

Given that Arsenal and Premier League champions Chelsea had also shown an interest, British media have speculated that the pair are being parked at West Ham with a view to a bigger transfer to a major club next year.

Pardew dismissed the speculation, saying he had had assurances they would not be leaving in the January transfer window and had signed four-year contracts.

He also said he was under no obligation to play the Argentina pair regardless of performance. 'That will never happen to me, if it did, I would leave,' he said.


Pardew hopes West Ham will do so well this season that the pair will stay with a club who were promoted from the second division in 2005 and reached last season's FA Cup final -- earning themselves a UEFA Cup place.

'We wouldn't be sitting here with these guys if we hadn't had great success previous to this,' Pardew said.

'Hopefully, we'll have more success and they'll stay two, three, four years.'

Mascherano explained the pair's choice of West Ham when he said: 'For a player the most important thing is to be shown how important it is (for a club) to have you in their squad. West Ham perhaps showed the most will.'

He added that 'for any South American player, and in this case Argentine, it is a dream to play in European football... This was a very important goal for us.'

Highlighting the lure of the English top-flight, he said: 'Everyone knows it's one of the most important leagues'.

Tevez said: 'West Ham made us a firm offer...the fact of playing in the Premier League was the other factor in coming here.

'We didn't have any doubt (choosing West Ham). We needed a change,' added Tevez, who left Corinthians under a cloud following differences with the Brazilian club's management on his return from the World Cup.