Slaven Bilic has rubbished speculation linking West Ham with a bid for Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge.
Bilic confirmed on Thursday that he is still exploring options in the January transfer window - defender Sam Byram joined from Leeds United on Wednesday - and is keen to sign a forward in particular.
Injuries to Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll, coupled with the potential departures of Nikica Jelavic and Mauro Zarate, has led to rumours of a move for Sturridge, despite the England international battling his own fitness problems.
Bilic revealed his admiration for the former Chelsea man, but has dismissed talk of a possible transfer, saying: "That is only a rumour and there is nothing behind it.
"I am not talking about who we want – Daniel Sturridge is a big player and a big name – but that is only paper talk."
When pressed on whether he could put forward an offer if Sturridge should become available, Bilic replied: "What if? I would take Lionel Messi also, but it is only an 'if' so there is nothing in it."
Bilic also confirmed both Carroll and Sakho are "ahead of schedule" in their efforts to recover from injury.
West Ham take on Manchester City at Upton Park on Saturday.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.