West Ham dodged a £32m bullet thanks to Kevin Wimmer rejecting a move to the London Stadium in favour of leaving Tottenham Hotspur for Stoke City.
The 28-year-old revealed in an interview with football.london recently that he was offered the chance to switch life in the north of the capital for east London back in 2017, but elected to join the Potters after a chat with Mark Hughes.
The Austrian’s time at White Hart Lane had reached its end after only two seasons following the arrival of Davinson Sanchez from AFC Ajax, having struggled for game-time under Mauricio Pochettino.
Wimmer made 21 appearances across all competitions during his first season at Tottenham after a £4.3m move from 1.FC Koln in 2015, but would only feature 10 times the following term as Spurs ended the season second in the Premier League table.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy breaking the bank to sign Sanchez for a then club-record £42m ensured that the Austrian was shown the door, and he would go on to seal an £18m move to Stoke – but not until he had held talks with West Ham.
“I was talking to West Ham and West Brom. For me, it was just like Mark Hughes at this time at Stoke, he gave me a very good feeling, we had good contact and he always told me that if you come, you will play and that’s also what happened,” Wimmer said.
“For me, Mark Hughes was a very good guy but unfortunately he got sacked a little bit before the January transfer window. In the first half of the season, I played like 19 games, so I nearly played everything. Of course, we had a difficult time at Stoke, but we weren’t in the relegation zone or anything.
“Then when Paul Lambert came to the club after Mark Hughes, everything changed. He was there like two days and after two days in the first game, I wasn’t even listed on the bench. I really thought ‘what happened’ and after the first game, he maybe wants to try something new but then he was in charge for 15 games or something and he won the first game, and after 14 games he won only the last game of the season when everything was already done and we were relegated.
“When you see the games that are going so wrong and you get dropped and every game you lose and then sometimes draw but most of the games we lost and always conceded goals and you still don’t get a chance, for me I couldn’t explain it. I spoke like every week with him but he always said so many reasons just to try and keep me motivated or something. I just thought ‘why don’t I get a chance anymore?’”
Hughes described signing Wimmer in 2017 as a “real coup” for Stoke as the defender was “a hugely talented young player who will undoubtedly add further quality to the group.”
However, almost four years on from arriving in Staffordshire and signing a £70,000-per-week contract, the nine-cap Austria international has only played 19 games for Stoke across all competitions – and 18 of those came under Hughes.
Loan deals to German side Hannover 96 and Belgian outfit Royal Excel Mouscron followed before joining 2. Bundesliga club Karlsruher SC for the final stretch of the current season on deadline day in February, where he has played just four of a possible eight games and started three times so far.
His decline, struggles for minutes at a host of clubs and being passed on by three full-time Stoke managers following Lambert’s resignation in 2018 has seen Wimmer’s TransferMarkt valuation plummet by 88% from its high of £10.8m in October 2017.
Wimmer is now touted at just £900,000 and will continue to steal a living on his lucrative Stoke contract for another year if they again fail to sell him this summer. He will have already cost the Potters £14m in wages over his 200 weeks at the club by June 30, on top of the £18m they must regret paying Tottenham.
Wimmer was one that got away from West Ham in 2017, but certainly proved to be a bullet dodged in the long run. David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady will no doubt be glad that the 28-year-old has been stealing that living at Stoke rather than in claret and blue.