David Sullivan should be all over a bargain deal to sign Watford defender Craig Dawson permanently as West Ham United strive to clear a path for Jesse Lingard’s arrival.
According to talkSPORT, the Irons could explore activating their option to purchase Dawson after seemingly winning the race to sign Lingard on loan from Manchester United during the January transfer window.
Lingard is said to be keen on leaving Old Trafford this month after being cast into the wilderness by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, which sparked a number of Premier League and European clubs to monitor his situation.
West Ham are ready to finalise their deal for Lingard to move to the London Stadium ahead of Monday’s deadline, in an initial six-month agreement that could feature an option to buy the £9m-rated maestro at the end of the season.
The Irons must first clear a hurdle before their deal for Lingard can be ratified, as Premier League rules dictate clubs can only have two domestic loan signings and David Moyes’ side currently have Dawson and Brentford-owned playmaker Said Benrahma.
It has been speculated that West Ham are ready to move forward their £20m obligation to buy Benrahma in the summer to the January transfer window, though talkSPORT claim that Dawson’s situation is the most likely option to be resolved this month.
Reports at the time of Dawson’s move to east London during the final week of the last transfer window claimed the Hammers took hold of a £2m option to purchase the centre-half, having failed with a £30m bid for Burnley defender James Tarkowski.
Dawson’s move to West Ham was met with a lot of pessimism from corners of the fanbase at the time of his unveiling, and had to wait a long while to make his debut with Moyes not fielding the 30-year-old until his side’s 0-0 draw with Southampton last month.
Moyes even opted against naming Dawson on the bench over the first seven available Premier League games before seating the Rochdale-born enforcer in the dugout through until matchday 16.
But Dawson has been a rock at the back for West Ham since stepping foot onto the field, to help the east London outfit go five-games unbeaten in the Premier League and win their last four to now sit fourth in the standings after beating Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
Rarely does he put a foot wrong beside Angelo Ogbonna, either, with Dawson’s efforts at Everton shackling England international Dominic Calvert-Lewin and again locking down Christian Benteke this week with the Belgian silenced in the air.
Dawson even struck his first top-flight goal in claret and blue at Selhurst Park to help seal the turnaround after Wilfried Zaha’s early opener, to demonstrate yet another aspect of how he has made a genuine difference at West Ham after the Irons conceded twice to Brighton and three at Chelsea last month.
If West Ham are to sign Lingard and thus need to free a loan slot, Sullivan should absolutely be jumping at Dawson’s £2m clause and locking up the no-nonsense centre-half Moyes feels is “sensational”.
That fee would also allow West Ham to spend on a striker to replace Sebastien Haller, with the Irons yet to add depth behind Michail Antonio this month.
AND in other news – Exclusive: Pundit drops verdict on West Ham’s links to £7m-rated striker.