Pinto deal ruled out as boss denies rift

PUBLISHED: 17:20 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:35 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG WEST Ham turned down the chance to sign a player nicknamed The Tank this week – but Alan Curbishley has denied that the deal fell through because of a war with technical director Gianluca Nani. Nani arranged a trial for highly rated Chil


WEST Ham turned down the chance to sign a player nicknamed The Tank this week - but Alan Curbishley has denied that the deal fell through because of a war with technical director Gianluca Nani.

Nani arranged a trial for highly rated Chile striker Sebastian Pinto at Upton Park last week with a view to signing the 22-year-old forward from Brazilian club Santos on a season-long loan.

The deal collapsed when Curbishley rejected the chance to sign the heavyweight hitman, sparking rumours of a row with Nani, who joined the club from Brescia last month and has been placed in charge of scouting potential recruits.

Reports claimed that the Hammers boss had refused to play Pinto in a specially arranged friendly match because he was locked in a power-struggle with Nani over the club's transfer targets.

But Curbishley has dismissed suggestions of a rift between the pair after revealing that Pinto completed an unsuccessful trial in a behind-closed-doors match against Queen's Park Rangers last week.

He said: "I do despair sometimes about what is written about us and I've been saying it for 18 months but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

"If someone had just made a phone call [they would have discovered that] the boy played.

"He came over, he played in a reserve game arranged with QPR last week for James Collins to play in. He played for 80 minutes.

"He played, we didn't fancy him and he's gone back.

"After the game, me and Nani went to watch South Africa play Australia [in an international friendly at Loftus Road] and then I dropped him home, so if we'd had a big row he wouldn't have got in the car."

Pinto, who has been dubbed El Tanque in his homeland because of his stocky appearance, has made just three appearances since joining Santos this year but is free to leave following a fall-out with the Brazilian club's manager.

Blackburn boss Paul Ince is now rumoured to be interested in signing the striker, who has made one international appearance for Chile in an unofficial friendly against Aragon in 2006.

Curbishley is hopeful that another friendly match will take place this week in order to help George McCartney with his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury and a bout of pneumonia.

"We had two people playing in that game [against QPR] aside from the ones coming back from injuries. [Lee] Bowyer played in it, as did [Nigel] Quashie," he said.

"We're trying to get another one arranged [for this week] for McCartney and one or two others.

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