Belfast Telegraph

Hammers clinch O'Neil deal

West Ham have completed the signing of midfielder Gary O'Neil from Middlesbrough.

The 27-year-old former Portsmouth player arrives at West Ham on a permanent deal having signed a two-and-a-half-year contract after an undisclosed fee was agreed with the Championship side.

He will be available for Wednesday's night's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Birmingham.

O'Neil spent two years with West Ham as a youngster and admits it feels he has "come home".

He told "I'm really pleased to sign. It all happened very quickly. I played for Middlesbrough at the weekend and didn't know anything was going to happen. It has all gathered pace since then. There was also a big rush to do it quickly when they realised I wasn't cup-tied.

"I enjoyed my time at Middlesbrough, the fans and staff were really good but it has been a difficult time on the pitch. It is nice to be back in the Premier League and play at the top level, which everyone wants to do. I am London born so it is good to come home. It is great that the club have such a massive game to look forward to."

O'Neil will replace Valon Behrami in West Ham's 25-man squad, with the Swiss international midfielder on the verge of a move to Fiorentina.

"The deal (for Behrami to Fiorentina) is nearly done," said manager Avram Grant. "I think everything will be okay. It is just formalities and of course money."

West Ham failed to push through the loan signing of Demba Ba from Hoffenheim in time for him to feature at St Andrew's. But Grant is confident the Senegal international is bound for Upton Park - and he does not view the signing as a gamble. Ba was due to sign for Stoke earlier this month only for the move to fall through after he failed a medical.

"He could not have played 21 games this season if he had a medical problem," Grant added. "We are a good club and he can help us. It is almost done."


From Belfast Telegraph