David Sullivan must strike a deal with AFC Bournemouth that would see Joshua King join West Ham United during the January transfer window following the forward’s masterclass in Saturday’s FA Cup win at home to Oldham Athletic.
King has been linked with a potential return to the Premier League during the winter market with a host of sides said to be monitoring his situation at the Vitality Stadium, including the Irons, who see the Norwegian as Sebastien Haller’s likely replacement, according to The Sun.
Haller finalised a £20m deal to join AFC Ajax on Friday, leaving Michail Antonio as David Moyes’ sole senior centre-forward, while King has now entered into the final six months of his £45,000-per-week contract on the south coast.
West Ham strived to sign King during the previous transfer window but saw a £13m bid rejected, yet while the Hammers are now claimed to still value the 28-year-old at the figure, they face competition from Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion who are willing to match Bournemouth’s £15m demands.
Sullivan is understood to be reluctant to offer more than he tabled in the summer, even though Moyes has marked King as his top January target and is thought to see the forward’s ability on the ball, willingness to lead the line and physicality as traits he would love to have in his squad.
Former England international Carlton Palmer also praised King’s energy and endeavour, but he exclusively told Football FanCast that he doubts the 51-cap international could be anything more than a squad player at the London Stadium.
However, King showed on Saturday as Bournemouth beat Oldham 4-1 in the FA Cup third round what he could offer West Ham, as the former Manchester United trainee produced a masterclass performance to open his account for the season with a brace.
King was making only his ninth outing of the campaign across all competitions, having previously been sidelined with a thigh injury and after testing positive for coronavirus, but he led the line supremely and settled the tie with two goals in the closing stages.
He struck home his first goal by heading in Adam Smith’s cross with 15 minutes left to play, before driving in a low effort four minutes from time to seal victory for Jason Tindall’s side with his third and final on-target effort of the day, per SofaScore.
The 28-year-old either beat or forced Oldham goalkeeper Will Dennis into action with each of his three shots, while creating two further chances for Bournemouth to score with two key balls from 27 accurate passes – including setting David Brooks up to break the deadlock moments before half-time.
King further took 57 touches, was successful with each of his two attempted dribbles, won six of 12 ground duels and one of four aerial contests, was fouled four times and offered two clearances.
It was a masterclass display that Premier League suitors will no doubt have taken note of, and it could leave Sullivan needing to dig a little deeper to meet Bournemouth’s demands to hand Moyes the forward he wishes to replace Haller with.