West Ham United insider ExWHUemployee claimed over the weekend that the London Stadium natives have an interest in Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, which could see David Sullivan gift David Moyes an aggressive colossus by launching a successful move.
Areola is on loan at Craven Cottage from Paris Saint-Germain but his future in the Premier League beyond the current campaign is far from certain, with talks over a permanent move on hold amid Scott Parker’s side’s fight for survival.
Fulham have an option to purchase Areola at the end of the season but the Frenchman is keen to see what division the Cottagers’ will be competing in before deciding if he will stay, while PSG could yet have a role to play.
Areola had sought to accept a summer move to Craven Cottage after struggling for minutes last term, having featured on just nine occasions as the back-up to Thibaut Courtois during a season-long loan with Real Madrid.
He has been a constant fixture of Parker’s plans since making his Premier League debut at Leeds United in September, with the 28-year-old starting 32 of 33 available games while keeping nine clean sheets.
Parker has been widely impressed by Areola’s performances in his first year in English football and backed the shot-stopper to be recalled to the French national side, as it would “nothing short of what he deserves”.
“In this moment physicality, presence, bravery as a keeper in terms of all those attributes was something that me and Rob [Burch, goalkeeping coach] highlighted,” Parker said, via quotes by BT. “And looking at Alphonse and his stature and games he has played, I had no doubt that was what he was.
“A very aggressive keeper, a front-foot keeper who wants to come and command his box, come and collect. Physically very, very big, agile. They were all the areas we looked at and they were the areas he ticked those boxes, and that was exactly what we need, and we’ve not been shocked in any way by that.”
It remains to be seen if Fulham look to activate their option to buy Areola at the end of the season, which is thought to be worth close to £25m and would likely end West Ham’s interest.
The Irons could also face continental competition for his signature, with Corriere dello Sport via Football-Italia crediting AS Roma and AC Milan as having an interest in the £75,000-per-week shot-stopper due to his PSG contract expiring in 2023.
But Sullivan beating the Serie A sides and capitalising on Fulham potentially having to walk away if they are relegated could be just what West Ham need, with Areola a potentially superb challenger for Lukasz Fabianski.
The Poland international has come in for criticism from some Hammers supporters after an error-strewn display in the Irons’ 3-2 defeat to relegation-threatened Newcastle United on Saturday, and turned 36 on Sunday.
Fabianski has also produced fewer total saves (89) than Areola (102) in the Premier League this term, while the Fulham stopper leads the division for crosses punched (26) with 19 more than West Ham’s current number one, per SofaScore.
Areola has collected marginally more crosses (20) than Fabianski (18) as well, while pulling off 71 of his saves from shots taken inside the area to 46 and has only conceded five more from shots inside the box despite the two side’s vastly contrasting fortunes this season.
It remains to be seen how much PSG would demand to sell Areola, who has a TransferMarkt valuation of £13.5m, but a deal would certainly make sense for West Ham to explore.