Slaven Bilic Admits West Ham 'Pushed' to Sign Sunderland Striker Jermain Defoe in January

Jude Summerfield

​West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has revealed his club tried to sign Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe in January.

Defoe was one of the most in-form forwards at the time, keeping Sunderland's hopes of avoiding relegation alive with his sharp finishing and scoring 12 goals by the end of January.

He hasn't scored for his club side since bagging a brace in the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in February, with his most recent strike being the goal for England during their World Cup qualifier win over Lithuania in March.

England v Lithuania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
England v Lithuania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier

Speaking ahead of the match between West Ham and Sunderland on Saturday, Bilic admitted the former Tottenham man was a target during the transfer window.

"Did we miss him? He was not for sale," Bilic said, as quoted by ​Football London.

"Sunderland made it very, very clear that no money, no way. He's under contract, he's happy there and wants to help the club. It was Sunderland who said no.

West Ham United v Sunderland - Premier League
West Ham United v Sunderland - Premier League

"We pushed, we tried, but as soon as they said no it was no."

West Ham did end up doing business during January, instead signing centre-back Jose Fonte from Southampton and winger Robert Snodgrass from Hull. Both are yet to show their best at the London Stadium but looked improved last weekend, as Snodgrass grabbed an assist and Fonte kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Swansea.

Sunderland look set to be relegated from the Premier League, with David Moyes' side currently 10 points off Hull City, who are 17th.

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