West Ham United are being strongly linked with Max Gradel as an increasing number of clubs monitor the winger’s contractual situation at Leeds United.Gradel is strongly rumoured to be on the radar of West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, a week after newly-promoted Premier League side Swansea City emerged as suitors for the Ivory Coast international.Speculation is once again surrounding Gradel, as it did in January when Newcastle United were credited with a close interest in him. A summer bid from the Tyneside club is understood to be unlikely but Gradel’s first full season at Elland Road has generated a growing number of admirers.Gradel scored 18 goals for United last term, earning him the club’s player of the year award, and Leeds manager Simon Grayson intends to keep him at Elland Road beyond the end of the August transfer deadline.But the 23-year-old’s contract runs out in June of 2012 and Leeds are not believed to have made Gradel an offer to extend his deal.Gradel has previously indicated his willingness to remain in West Yorkshire next season, saying: “The opportunity this club gave me changed my career. I owe a lot of thanks to Leeds and I want to stay. I mean that.”
Grayson agreed to the sale of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel last week, accepting a seven-figure bid from Leicester City, but he would be more reluctant to see Gradel depart before the Championship term begins.