Reports in Spain over the weekend claimed that West Ham United are set to sign SSC Napoli defender Nikola Maksimovic in a free summer transfer, in a potential dreamland scenario for David Sullivan a year after his efforts fell on deaf ears.
The Diego Armando Maradona Stadium natives are said to have accepted that the Serbian will be leaving the club at the end of the season, after unsuccessful discussions over a new contract.
Maksimovic is due to be a free agent in June when his £38,000-per-week terms expire and he is reported to have already reached an agreement with West Ham.
David Moyes is said to be a big fan of the 29-year-old and put his services before the Irons hierarchy over other potential targets, as he looks to strengthen his defensive options at the London Stadium.
The agreement between Maksimovic and West Ham is thought to be binding and that barring any late hurdles arising, he will become the Premier League side’s first signing of the next transfer window.
The Hammers had sought to acquire Maksimovic ahead of the 2019/20 campaign but Sullivan and Moyes saw the club’s efforts fall short, with talkSPORT reporting in September that Napoli rejected a £14m bid while Calciomercato.it claimed an improved €25m (£21.5m) offer was also rejected.
Moyes had allegedly urged Maksimovic’s transfer in the summer as he sought an alternative option after Burnley’s relentless refusal to sell James Tarkowski, yet faced a similar hurdle in his pursuit of the 6 ft 4 brute who has been likened to his compatriot Nemanja Vidic.
A year of waiting may now see West Ham land their man without paying Napoli a penny, and be able to put those funds with the £15-20m reserved from Sebastien Haller’s January transfer to Ajax in efforts to improve Moyes’ offensive arsenal.
Moyes has long been expected to covet the arrival of another senior centre-back in the next off-season, despite Craig Dawson now being only one start away from triggering a permanent £2m transfer from Watford.
The Hornets loanee and Maksimovic joining West Ham on full-time deals would see Moyes’ centre-back group expand to six, with Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop two experienced heads plus the versatile Aaron Cresswell and January signing Frederik Alves in line to be unleashed with Fabian Balbuena due to leave.
Where Maksimovic would sit in that pecking order remains to be seen, but what is seemingly clear is that Moyes is a big admirer of the £13.5m-rated enforcer and what he can offer West Ham if the Napoli centre-back is on his way to the Premier League this summer.
Being a free signing less than a year after West Ham saw an alleged £21.5m bid turned down will also be a dreamland scenario for Sullivan, who will no doubt be loath to pay out big on a player who turns 30 in November and will thus have little resale value.
The Irons are already likely to be hit heavily in the pocket this summer should they look to offload Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko as has previously been speculated, while Haller’s winter exit saw the east London outfit accept a £25m loss on their record signing.
AND in other news, a West Ham winter target is set to be available for £17m this summer…