Scotland's two dominant clubs are alerted to the England Under 21 international after West Ham United declined to offer the forward an improved contract.
Rangers and Celtic will contest for Zavon Hines transfer
LONDON // Celtic and Glasgow Rangers, Scotland's two dominant clubs, are set to go head-to-head in a contest to sign the England Under 21 international Zavon Hines after West Ham United declined to offer the forward an improved contract.
Hines, 22, is free to move outside the Premier League at the end of the season for a Fifa-determined "training compensation" payment.
The exact cost to the Scottish clubs would depend on at which point a Fifa committee determined Hines to have "completed his training" at West Ham, which could result in a fee as low as £318,000 (Dh1.9 million).
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His current employers would be certain to ask for a significantly higher sum were he to move within England and the transfer be subject to an English Football Association tribunal.
Both Glasgow clubs have become practised in the art of targeting out-of-contract players based in the English leagues to exploit cross-border transfer regulations. Last summer, Celtic were able to acquire Joe Ledley on a free transfer from Cardiff City as the Wales midfielder was over the age of 23. Earlier in that season, Rangers made overtures to arrange a training compensation move for Adam Johnson, provoking Middlesbrough to sell the winger to Manchester City before his value fell still further.
Hines established himself in West Ham's first team under last season's managerial team of Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke, producing a series of game-changing performances as a second striker. His pace and unpredictable dribbling resulted in Stuart Pearce calling him up for an England U21 debut in which he replaced Theo Walcott and scored twice to secure victory over Macedonia.
West Ham had opened negotiations on an improved contract when Hines suffered a knee injury, which required surgery and finished his season.
Nevertheless, Hines was voted West Ham's Young Player of the Year. But instead of awarding the player a pay rise, the club's new owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, enforced a unilateral option to extend his contract for a further year. He remained the worst-paid professional in West Ham's first-team squad on less than £5,000 a week.
Since recovering from injury at the end of last year, Hines has made six first-team appearances for Avram Grant, who valued the player highly enough to block a proposed loan deal to Championship side Burnley.
However, Karren Brady, West Ham's vice-chairman, declined to make a counter offer during an April 1 meeting to discuss the player's future.
Though Hines is understood to be interested in furthering his career in Scotland, his situation has attracted the attention of other Premier League clubs.
The former West Ham sporting director Gianluca Nani has inquired about taking Hines to Italian football with current club Brescia, but Hines is unlikely to move overseas.