West Ham are unwilling to let star striker Carlton Cole leave the club for anything less than £12 million, with any cash-plus-player offers certain to be rejected.

The Hammers are expected to officially announce that Avram Grant will be the club’s new manager on Thursday, and the former Portsmouth boss has earmarked four or five players who he would like to sign in order to strengthen the squad ahead of next season.

But any moves for new players will need to be funded, with the sale of England internationals Cole and Matthew Upson the most likely source of finance.

West Ham United academy chief Tony Carr rates Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole as the most naturally-gifted young player he came across.

Carr is the head of West Ham’s famed youth academy system, which means Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Glen Johnson, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe passed under his guidance and tonight the majority will be back in east London to pay tribute to their former mentor who is being rewarded for his 37 years of loyal service with a testimonial match.