Carlton Cole battle hots up as Liverpool and Villa join race for striker - Exclusive
Published 23:00 16/05/10 By Darren Lewis
Liverpool and Aston Villa have joined the race for Carlton Cole after it emerged last night that West Ham rejected a £10million bid for the striker.
The offer has come from Birmingham who are desperate to prise the England frontman away from Upton Park.
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish has spoken directly to Hammers chief executive Karren Brady about a deal made up of £8million cash with £2million in bonuses.
The offer was rejected out of hand by Brady, whom City believe is trying to spark an auction for the player.
The dismissal of Birmingham's bid is all the more surprising given the fact that Cole remains one of the players West Ham insist they are willing to sell.
Indeed, co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan are understood to have been in touch with a string of agents in an attempt to get the best possible deal for the player.
Villa boss Martin O'Neill has been a big fan of Cole for some time and, in the last week, the club have contacted West Ham about putting together a deal.
Liverpool too have expressed an interest and remain keen despite the fact that Cole has been left out of Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup.
Cole, 26, began his career with Chelsea in 2001. A highly-rated youngster, he was sent out on loan to Wolves, Villa and Charlton before joining West Ham permanently in 2006.