Nathaniel Clyne swoop would open up back three options for West Ham

West Ham are leading the queue of clubs to sign Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne this summer, per Football Insider.

The defender is currently on loan at AFC Bournemouth and appears set to leave Anfield on a permanent basis this summer.

What’s the word?

Clyne made just four Premier League appearances for Liverpool prior to his loan move to the south coast.

Since then, he has made 11 appearances for the Cherries and, while Football Insider claim that they are hopeful of securing him on a permanent basis, West Ham are said to lead the chase.

Indeed, Clyne is reported to be keen to move to London after previously spending four years in the capital with Crystal Palace.

The report claims that West Ham have been given encouragement over a deal, with Liverpool keen to receive a fee for a player whose contract expires at the end of next season.

Plan B for Pellegrini

Swooping for Clyne gives Manuel Pellegrini the chance to change up his tactical playbook in east London. The Hammers usually play with a flat back four, with Pablo Zabaleta at right-back and either Aaron Cresswell or Arthur Masuaku on the left.

However, a move to sign Clyne allows the switch to a back three, employing wing-backs rather than full-backs. Masuaku showed how effective he can be in that role last season, but Zabaleta lacks the necessary legs and Ryan Fredericks just hasn’t done enough to prove he’s at West Ham’s level.

The England international, meanwhile, has the energy and dynamism to play in a more advanced capacity, as his performances for Bournemouth have shown this season, as well as in the traditional full-back slot.

West Ham also have some excellent central defenders – Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena are all Premier League quality – and bringing Clyne in would facilitate for all three play together. Declan Rice, albeit a midfielder pretty much exclusively this season, could operate in a back three as well, as the centre-half who steps forward into the engine room.

It would represent a marked change for Pellegrini, who is yet to field a back three in the Premier League this season and has relied on back fours for most of his career. But if West Ham are to really push the division’s top clubs next season for some form of European qualification, that level of tactical flexibility is vital – especially in the encounters with the Big Six.