In Focus: West Ham unlikely to retain interest in Bilic target Stepanenko

According to reports on ESPN FC, West Ham United could miss out on an €8m (approximately £7.1m) deal for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Taras Stepanenko during the January transfer window following the dismissal of Slaven Bilic earlier this month.

What’s the word, then?

Well, ESPN FC say that Bilic had been working on bringing the defensive midfielder to the London Stadium in the New Year, but his sacking may mean that Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim are now in pole position to sign the 28-year-old.

ESPN FC says that the Irons had been monitoring the Ukraine international’s performances in the Champions League this term, but the appointment of David Moyes as Bilic’s successor has cast doubt on whether the east London outfit will still want to move for Stepanenko.

The report adds that while the Scot has been promised money to spend in January, he is yet to properly assess his squad and the areas in which he might need to strengthen.

How has Stepanenko done this season?

The 28-year-old has been a regular in the Shakhtar midfield, making 20 appearances in all competitions and providing an assist in his side’s 2-1 win against Napoli in the Champions League back in September.

According to Squawka, on his five outings in Europe’s elite club competition he has shown his defensive qualities by winning both of the aerial duels he has faced, while he has made eight interceptions, six clearances and three blocks, as well as having a passing accuracy of 88%.

Would Moyes want him?

It’s difficult to say.

The fact that he is a regular for Shakhtar and has Champions League experience mean that he should be a good addition, but the Scot could perhaps choose to focus on players with Premier League experience in the New Year in order to help West Ham in the relegation battle they currently find themselves in.