In Focus: West Ham move for Lewis Dunk was never really likely to happen

According to Sky Sports, Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has issued a hands-off warning to clubs interested in defender Lewis Dunk, who is reportedly a January target for West Ham United and rated at £6.3m according to Transfermarkt.

What’s the word, then?

Well, The Mirror reported in November that the Irons wanted to make the centre-back David Moyes’ first signing during the current window, with the Scot looking to strengthen his defensive options.

However, speaking prior to his side’s FA Cup third round tie against Crystal Palace on Monday night, Seagulls boss Hughton has ruled out the 26-year-old leaving this month, which is unsurprising given he signed a new five-year deal in August.

What did he say?

According to Sky Sports, the 59-year-old said: “Lewis has been magnificent for us, certainly during my period of time here. He has improved as a player and we have a chairman who has resisted any temptation of him not being here during that period.

“I fully expect him to be a Brighton player come the end of January.”

Why do West Ham want him?

As we mentioned previously, Moyes may well be starting to look to the future when it comes to adding new central defenders to his team, and Dunk has proven to be a more than capable performer in his first season in the Premier League.

The south coast outfit have conceded 27 goals in their 22 top flight matches this term, and according to the 26-year-old has shown his defensive capabilities.

In those matches he has won 35 tackles and 69 of the 123 aerial duels he has faced, while he has made 38 clearances, 128 clearances and 49 blocks.

Dunk is a proper defender who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line, while he has shown his leadership skills by captaining his team when usual skipper Bruno hasn’t been on the pitch.

What happens now?

Well, Hughton’s comments suggest that Brighton aren’t going to sell Dunk this month – especially to a potential relegation rival – and they would only consider doing so if they received a huge bid they were unable to reject.

That scenario appears unlikely though, with Moyes likely to look elsewhere if he is really keen to bring a new centre-back to the London Stadium before the window slams shut on January 31.