West Ham United are unwilling to allow Issa Diop to join Liverpool but they may part with Fabian Balbuena on Deadline Day.
According to The Telegraph, the Irons have no interest in allowing Diop to leave the London Stadium on the final day of the winter transfer market.
The 24-year-old had been touted as a potential target for Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp strives to solve his defensive injury crisis, but West Ham wish to see their £22m former club-record signing stay put.
Diop has only started one Premier League fixture since testing positive for coronavirus in September and has played no role in the Hammers’ last eight top-flight matches. However, his status is considered to be a personal issue rather than based on form.
Yet David Sullivan is not done in offloading those seemingly no longer required at the London Stadium, as it is added that Balbuena would be allowed to leave on a permanent deal if the Irons receive offers at the right price.
Balbuena is out of contract in the summer and has not featured in the league since the turn of the year, having been dropped from the squad that drew with Southampton through reasons that the reliable ExWHUemployee claimed were not related to the groin injury sustained in early December.
West Ham have also allowed Winston Reid to join Brentford on loan until the end of the season following his return from a spell with Major League Soccer franchise Sporting KC.
West Ham now deciding to allow Balbuena to seal a permanent exit signals a drastic U-turn by the Hammers hierarchy, who were thought to be prepared to table a new contract offer to the Paraguayan only a matter of weeks ago.
West Ham are not seeing any real return for their money at present with Balbuena on the sidelines with Diop, as Craig Dawson has now established himself as David Moyes’ preferred partner for Angelo Ogbonna, so it makes sense for the club to consider letting him leave.
But leaving it so late risks the Hammers failing to seal a deal before Monday night’s deadline and thus, they could forced into seeing Balbuena depart as a free agent in the summer.
South American football journalist Jorge Nicola claimed recently that Flamengo may attempt to sign the £7m-rated beast, who Hammers coach Alan Irvine dubbed “outstanding” earlier in the season, if he does not agree on new terms in east London before the end of the season.
Whether an offer comes in that meets West Ham’s valuation on Deadline Day remains to be seen, yet retaining Balbuena – even at the risk of losing him for free – would provide Moyes with great centre-back cover.
Despite his lack of game time of late, Balbuena continues to rank first among the Hammers centre-halves for the average number of successful tackles (1.75), interceptions (1.83) and clearances (4.92) made per game in the Premier League this season, per SofaScore. Showing how he can more than easily still make a difference in protecting Lukasz Fabianski’s goal if needed.
Letting a player leave today without getting a replacement in, even if he is just a squad player, would be a risky move for the Hammers. We’ll see how it all plays out over the next few hours.
AND in other news: “It’s nonsense” – Exclusive: Pundit baffled by GSB’s West Ham decision…