Daprela signs as Neill eyes return

WEST HAM signed one full back last week, and another may follow in the next few days, though the identity of the latter is a familiar one to Hammers fans, writes DAVE EVANS. Swiss under-19 defender Fabio Daprela agreed a five-year-deal with West Ham and w

WEST HAM signed one full back last week, and another may follow in the next few days, though the identity of the latter is a familiar one to Hammers fans, writes DAVE EVANS. Swiss under-19 defender Fabio Daprela agreed a five-year-deal with West Ham and will act as cover for Herita Ilunga at left back. While Lucas Neill has resumed talks with the club after failing to get any tempting offers from other teams during the summer. The Aussie captain may be as welcome as Ricky Ponting among the West Ham fans if he did return. It has been reported that Neill was searching for an improved one-year deal at Upton Park after his contract ran out in the summer, but when he was offered reduced terms, he decided to look elsewhere. The 34-year-old was linked with Manchester City (inevitably) and more realistically Galatasaray in Turkey, but it seems that an offer was not forthcoming, though Neill has now begun talks with Premier League outfit Sunderland with a view to a one-year deal. Allegedly, many at West Ham are not keen on the skipper returning to the fold, but it is manager Gianfranco Zola who is his biggest fan, and that is the only reason that the door has been left open for Neill, who has played 89 games in claret and blue, since joining from Blackburn Rovers in a �1.5million deal in January 2007. It still seems likely that Neill will not sign the contract offer, though time is running out for the Hammersd to find a replacement before the start of the new season, with Julien Faubert or Jonathan Spector the likely choices to step into the Aussies’ boots. If he were to return, it may well cause one or two headaches in the dressing room as well. Neill would be likely to stay as club captain, a job that has been earmarked for England centre half Matty Upson, who collected the third-place shield at the Asia Cup on Friday in Beijing. Many believed that making Upson the new skipper would enhance West Ham’s chances of hanging on to one of their prized possessions. Meanwhile, new signing Daprela is excited about coming to the Premier League. “I am very happy to come here as it is a great club,” said the 19-year-old, who turned down offers from two Italian clubs to sign for the Hammers from Grasshoppers Zurich. “I saw the team play on television last season and it is a very good team. They have a great manager and it is good to be here.” Daprela played for his country in the recent European under-19 Championships in the Ukraine, where only a narrow 1-0 defeat by the hosts prevented them from making the semi-finals. He also played in the group match against England, which finished in a 1-1 draw. Daprela will start as a back-up man in the squad, but he is keen to make his mark sooner rather than later. “I want to play for the first team in the Premier League,” he insisted. “I think I can learn a lot from the manager and people like Matthew Upson and Mark Noble, and I am really looking forward to the season starting.” Daprela will hope to play some part in Saturday’s clash with Napoli for the Bobby Moore Cup, which takes place at Upton Park.


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