Only hours after news broke that he was in London undergoing a medical, Andy Carroll's loan move to West Ham United for the season has been officially completed, with Liverpool releasing a poorly timed confirmation midway through the first half of Thursday night's Europa League match against Hearts. That confirmation was hardly a surprise, though, as before the game manager Brendan Rodgers had spoken openly about the player's impending departure:
"Andy is at West Ham, going through a medical there. It is very simple—the club have made a monumental investment in big Andy. At the moment he is not playing. He made it very clear he wanted to play games and this is his last chance to do that."
It is believed that the deal only covers Carroll's loan for the coming season, with West Ham paying his entire salary and a £1M transfer fee. Despite an earlier willingness to take Carroll on loan with a mandatory £17M purchase option for next summer should the Hammers avoid relegation, the player's unwillingness to move permanently to any side other than Newcastle United in the end forced Liverpool to choose between keeping the unwanted striker or sending him out on loan for a minimal wage savings.
With Carroll now out of the picture for at least the coming season, Liverpool have little more than 24 hours to complete any deals currently in the works to shore up a dangerously thin attacking lineup that at the moment appears to consist of Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini, the untested Oussama Assaidi, and the 17-year-old Raheem Sterling.
Update 1: Despite multiple media outlets reporting that there is no purchase option involved in the deal, shortly before Liverpool officially confirmed the move, West Ham chairman David Gold Tweeted (HT: Matthew Taylor) his own confirmation—including a confirmation that the deal in fact did contain an option to buy the player. Whether it is the mandatory option that was on the table when Carroll was first linked to West Ham or not remains unclear.
Update 2: According to the Times' Tony Barrett, the option to buy requires the agreement of the player and both clubs in order to be triggered, making it an all but useless footnote.