From unwanted spare part to the prettiest towering striker in the land, it's been a good year for Andy Carroll. At least as teammate Joe Cole tells it now that the two have been reunited at West Ham after Liverpool finally managed to cut ties with Cole in January following two years of trying, finding him a home back with the club he first broke through at and matching him up again with Carroll.
"West Ham definitely want to keep Andy Carroll," Cole said in an interview on TalkSport following West Ham's draw on Sunday against Carroll's boyhood club, Newcastle United. "I don’t know the ins and outs of the deal but the way he’s been playing in the last couple of weeks you can understand why Liverpool paid £35m for him a couple of years ago.
"I think all the boys want him to stay at West Ham. He’s [his own] man though and he has his own agenda. I don’t know what Liverpool are thinking and I’m sure there will be be other clubs in for him. West Ham would like to keep him, he’s our top scorer. He’s got to do what’s right for him though."
There would have been no question what happened to Carroll at the end of the season had the original deal agreed between Liverpool and West Ham gone through. That first deal proposed that should West Ham remain in the top flight, it would trigger an automatic purchase of the player for around £17M.
With West Ham sitting tenth on 43 points and set to finish solidly mid-table in their first year back in the Premier League, that's a deal that as originally intended by both clubs would now be all but officially done. Instead, Carroll's determination to have some measure of control over his future—and perhaps even to return to Liverpool after proving himself in London—meant that original deal never went through.
Carroll refused the loan move as originally outlined, leading to a last-minute scramble to re-write the deal in a way all parties could agree to. In the end, the £17M clause remained, but it was made comprehensively toothless. In its new form, any of Liverpool, West Ham, or Carroll himself could stop the clause triggering at season's end for any reason.
It leaves all three parties now facing an uncertain future. West Ham clearly want him but are unsure if they can afford him under Financial Fair Play; Liverpool clearly don't want him but will be reluctant to move much below the £17M fee they agreed last summer; and while everyone else around him at West Ham talks about him, Carroll himself remains largely silent.