Stoke close on Cole and go for Noble
Stoke are in advanced negotiations with West Ham over the transfer of Carlton Cole and also hope to sign the striker's team-mate Mark Noble.
Stoke are in the market for a new striker this summer as they prepare to offload James Beattie and Dave Kitson, and their manager Tony Pulis is a long-term admirer of Cole.
Stoke, Fulham and Birmingham were all reported to have bids rejected by West Ham for the 26-year-old a fortnight ago, with the Hammers placing a £15million price tag on the former Chelsea youngster.
Potters chairman Peter Coates immediately ruled out the prospect of paying £15million for a player this summer but the club have remained in negotiations with West Ham and are close to agreeing a deal worth around £12million, with the initial payment and future add-ons yet to be decided. Dave Kitson could also be offered as a makeweight.
Stoke have spoken to Cole's agent and are willing to break their wage structure to sign the England international as quickly as possible, with Aston Villa and Bayern Munich also reported to be keen. The initial signs are that Cole is keen on a move to the Britannia Stadium, though, and the transfer could even be completed late this week, although next week is more likely.
And if Stoke land Cole, they will step up their bid to sign his team-mate Noble, who they have also made a bid for. The Potters first tried to land the midfielder last summer but West Ham were not willing to part with the 23-year-old.
However, the club's owners David Gold and David Sullivan are now willing to listen to offers for their players barring Scott Parker and Stoke are confident of completing a double swoop on the East Londoners in the next couple of weeks.