Our Transfer Focus feature looks at Andy Carroll as the striker remains linked with an exit from Liverpool.
Andy Carroll remains a subject of transfer speculation as the Liverpool striker's loan deal at West Ham approaches its conclusion.
Having been deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield by Brendan Rodgers in the summer of 2012, Carroll secured a season-long loan to the Hammers and has largely impressed, contributing with seven Premier League goals.
Carroll's former club Newcastle and West Ham appear set for a summer scrap over the forward, with Rodgers unlikely to offer Carroll a reprieve at Anfield given the nature of his signings so far, preferring players who excel with the ball at their feet rather than in the air.
Having spent £50million on Carroll in January 2011, Liverpool will surely be seeking a hefty percentage of that fee back, but will be a deal thrashed out for the forward?
Who Wants Him?
Sam Allardyce has made no secret of his desire to recruit Carroll on a full-time basis and with the West Ham boss' future now relatively secure, it appears signing Carroll will be the Hammers' initial priority this summer. When Carroll has been fit, he has started for West Ham and over the course of the season has morphed into a key player for the East London club. His combative, energetic style is a perfect fit for Allardyce's blend of direct, fast-paced football and the Hammers - no strangers to spending - would be more likely than other sides to fork out big for the striker.
Following his £50million move to Liverpool in 2011, Newcastle looked to re-sign Carroll on loan last summer but were beaten to the punch by West Ham. The Magpies since suffered an alarming Premier League slump, coinciding with the sale of star striker Demba Ba to Chelsea in January and Alan Pardew will undoubtedly be targeting forward reinforcements as a summer priority. Papiss Cisse earned vast acclaim upon his Newcastle arrival in 2012, but he has failed to hit his stride during this campaign which has seen just five teams score fewer goals than the Magpies in the league. Carroll could be a much-needed boost to Newcastle next season, but will Liverpool want to sell the striker back to his former employers on a cut-price deal?
Given Emmanuel Adebayor's reported unhappiness at Tottenham, it appears Andre Villas-Boas will be in the hunt for a replacement in the summer and few fit Adebayor's mold better than Carroll. Both are tremendous forces in the air and both have excellent hold-up play, while at the age of 24, Carroll's best years are almost certainly in front of him. Should Adebayor leave, Carroll would be an option that Spurs could afford, which may be a decisive factor in securing the Englishman's signature when the financial discussions take place in the coming weeks.
Also available with Sky Bet: Stoke (28/1), Aston Villa (33/1), Norwich (33/1), Sunderland (40/1), Cardiff (50/1).
Sky Bet's Donald Munro writes: "Andy Carroll looks set to be blowing bubbles again next season as he has been backed in from 9/4 to 1/5 to sign for West Ham this summer. Carroll doesn't appear to have a part in Brendan Rodgers' plans at Liverpool but he is well suited to Sam Allardyce's style of play and he also has a strong relationship with Hammers captain Kevin Nolan so it would make sense for him to make his West Ham move permanent ahead of the new season.
"The striker has had his problems with injuries while on loan there this term but finished the season strongly for Allardyce's side and has been rewarded with a call up to England squad ahead of their upcoming friendlies. The striker will have one eye on making Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad next summer and you can back him at 6/4 with Sky Bet to do so. If he completes the switch and fires West Ham up the table next season then there's a good chance that he'll be the man leading the line for England in Brazil 2014."
This season: 22 games, 7 goals - includes a brace in West Ham's 3-1 victory against West Bromwich Albion.
Last season: 35 games,11 goals - includes four FA Cup goals for Liverpool in four starts and decisive goals in the Reds' 3-2 and 2-1 wins over Blackburn and Everton respectively.
International record: 9 games, 2 goals - having been called up during his Newcastle days, Carroll netted his first England goal in a 1-0 friendly victory over Ghana in March 2011. His only other goal carried far more importance, as he opened the scoring in England's 3-2 Euro 2012 triumph over Sweden, a goal which ended up helping England progress from Group D.
Carroll's signing for Liverpool on 31 January 2011 for £35 million represents both Liverpool's most expensive ever signing and the highest amount ever paid by one club to another for a British footballer.
Carroll was the recipient of the "Wor Jackie Milburn Trophy" in 2007, which is awarded every year to the rising star of North-East football, chosen from among Newcastle players.
Carroll scored four goals in Liverpool's run to the 2012 FA Cup final, including strikes in the semi-final against Everton and the final with Chelsea. Liverpool eventually lost 2-1 to the Blues at Wembley Stadium.
What Carroll Says
April 2013: "I have just got to wait and see, really. We'll see what happens at the end of the season. It has been great here (at West Ham) and every minute has been fantastic. The lads have been great, the gaffer has been great and the fans are unbelievable."
October 2012: ""I haven't really had a fair chance at Liverpool. I was really told that I should move on to keep playing regular football, and obviously then Sam (Allardyce) wanted me here and told me I would be playing regular games." ESPN
May 2013: "Great game today buzzing for the skip getting a hat-trick and enjoyed every minute of being at west ham!!" Twitter
What Others Say
May 2013, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "If we can start with Andy Carroll (next season) that would be a great achievement for us as he can only get better and better."
March 2013, West Ham midfielder Joe Cole: "West Ham definitely want to keep Andy Carroll. I don't know the ins and outs of the deal but the way he's been playing in the last couple of weeks you can understand why Liverpool paid £35m for him a couple of years ago."April 2013, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "As to his future, there are other things involved, it's not as simple as him being here. There are other things we need to consider in it all."
Daily Mirror, May 10: West Ham are set to open talks with Liverpool over a permanent move for Andy Carroll - and hope to clinch a deal in a few weeks.
Daily Star May 21: Kevin Nolan admits the lure of European football could persuade Andy Carroll to turn down West Ham.
Daily Mirror, April 16: West Ham are set to scrap a deal to sign on-loan Liverpool striker Andy Carroll as they cannot afford him under new financial fair play rules.
Daily Mirror, April 6: Brendan Rodgers has refused to let Andy Carroll leave Anfield on the cheap.
Daily Mirror, April 5: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is ready to send Andy Carroll back to Newcastle in a swap deal with Hatem Ben Arfa.
Liverpool FC, May 17 (@LFC) - "The boss has praised Andy Carroll's desire for first-team football"
ITV Football, May 16 (@itvfootball) - "Hodgson on Andy Carroll: "There is always going to be room for a centre-forward of his class"
OptaJoe, April 13 (@OptaJoe) - "Andy Carroll has now been involved in four goals (3 goals, one assist) in his last three Premier League appearances. Leader.."