• Officials unhappy over comments from Rene Meulensteen
• Premier League investigating the matter
West Ham United have reported Fulham to the Premier League over what they believe is the tapping up of Ravel Morrison. The east London club were furious on Tuesday night to hear the Fulham manager, René Meulensteen, suggest that the midfielder wanted to come to Craven Cottage.
Meulensteen, who worked with Morrison when the pair were together at Manchester United, has made him his top January transfer target and he feels that the talented if temperamental 20-year-old could be the player to help the club avoid relegation. Fulham have had an offer of £4m plus add-ons rejected by West Ham.
Meulensteen confirmed that the bid for Morrison had been turned down, after Fulham had beaten Norwich City 3-0 at home in the FA Cup third round replay. But he sparked the controversy when he was asked whether Morrison wanted to come to Fulham. "Yes," he replied. Meulensteen was then asked what made him think that. "Because I've known him for a long, long time," he said.
Meulensteen went on to say that Morrison stood to add "youthfulness, energy, unpredictability, attacking strength, loads of things" to the Fulham squad. He was also asked whether he was confident of tying up a deal this month if a fee were to be agreed. "That's what we're hoping for," Meulensteen said.
The Premier League has rules that forbid any approach to a contracted player by a rival club or anyone working on their behalf. Rule T8 also makes it clear that public statements about contracted players are not allowed.
The rule reads: "A statement made publicly by or on behalf of a club expressing interest in acquiring the registration of a contract player, or by a contract player expressing interest in transferring his registration to another club shall, in either case, be treated as an indirect approach."
West Ham believe that Meulensteen and, by extension, Fulham have put themselves in breach of the rules and they have called upon the Premier League to take decisive action.
Meulensteen would say that he was only answering reporters' questions honestly but West Ham's grievance was fired by his quotes being carried by Fulham's official website.
Fulham were furious in 2012 when Liverpool's attempt to take Clint Dempsey from them saw the Merseyside club deliver clumsy bulletins. It was reported by a website owed by Liverpool's owners, the Fenway Sports Group, that Dempsey had signed and this was followed by the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, talking up the USA forward on the club's official site.
Fulham complained to the Premier League and Liverpool would defuse the situation with an apology. Dempsey, who is now back at Craven Cottage on loan from the Seattle Sounders, moved to Tottenham Hotspur that summer, rather than Liverpool.
The Premier League have opened an investigation into the Morrison affair, and they will ask both Fulham and West Ham for their views. It will complicate Fulham's attempt to sign Morrison, which Meulensteen suggested was continuing.
Carlton Cole, meanwhile, has signed a new 18-month contract at West Ham and he is determined to build upon the flashes of form that he has shown this season and help the club to retain their Premier League status.
The 30-year-old striker was released by the manager, Sam Allardyce, at the end of last season because of fitness concerns but he returned to the first-team squad on a short-term deal in October.
It expired at the beginning of this week but he did enough over 11 Premier League appearances, four of them as a starter, to earn the contract renewal that will keep him at Upton Park until the summer of 2015. He has scored four league goals, more than any other West Ham player and the most crucial of them came in Saturday's 2-0 win at Cardiff City.
"I've worked hard to get to the position I'm in right now," Cole said. "Now, I just want to help the team push on and get further up the table. I have my own targets in my head and hopefully, I can get to where I want to get to. First and foremost, it's all about Premier League survival."
West Ham's attempt to avoid relegation has been boosted by confirmation that Lacina Traoré has been granted a work permit, with the club confident of completing the Ivory Coast striker's loan move from Monaco before their weekend game against Newcastle.
The 6ft 8in Traoré moved to the French club from Anzhi Makhachkala for £8.6m only this month but was immediately made available for loan with his chances likely to be limited in the short term behind Radamel Falcao at Stade Louis II.