David Sullivan has been gifted a huge boost in West Ham United’s chase of Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner, with the MLS outfit confirming their search for his successor.
While speaking with MLS Soccer, Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner has confirmed Philadelphia are searching for new full-backs ahead of the winter market as they expect Wagner to be leaving.
Philadelphia’s 2020 campaign came to an end in last month’s MLS Cup Play-Offs defeat to New England Revolution, but Tanner is confident Union can remain one of America’s elite clubs by building a strong side in the upcoming window.
Wagner has been the subject of strong speculation regarding his future at Subaru Park, with West Ham, Fulham and Bundesliga sides believed to be keen on the German full-back valued at around £3.5million.
The 23-year-old has confirmed his intent to forge a career for himself back in Europe after spending time in the academies of SSV Ulm, FC Schalke 04 and Wurzburger Kickers, and Tanner is seemingly resigned to losing Wagner.
“Look, at this moment there is nothing on the table,” Tanner said. “But we are not blind, we can’t wait until something comes, we’ll do our homework and always look for replacements.”
With Wagner keen to impress back in Europe and Tanner now searching for replacements, West Ham appear well-placed to forge a pursuit this winter on a player who would be a true game-changer at the London Stadium.
Wagner has been lauded as a “very unique” defender by Philadelphia Union boss Jim Curtin, who considers the 23-year-old to be exceptionally talented in a position where “there’s not a lot of good ones in the world”.
The 5 ft 11 full-back started all 18 of his appearances across all competitions in 2020 as he helped Union to reach the MLS Cup Play-Offs, while progressing through to the Semi-Finals of the MLS Is Back tournament this summer.
He provided two assists over his outings, while netting the opening effort in Philadelphia’s 2-1 Group A win over Inter Miami in July before a leg injury thwarted the start to his MLS regular season campaign.
Wagner could have boasted even better numbers, too, having provided on average 0.8 key balls and 0.6 accurate crosses per game this year, per SofaScore. He further helped to five clean sheets with 1.7 tackles, 1.1 interceptions, 1.6 clearances and 4.4 duels won, while seeing just two yellow cards all season.