David Moyes could look to upgrade Angelo Ogbonna at West Ham United in the summer transfer window with a successful swoop for ACF Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic.
It is not stipulated when the offer was tabled, though co-owner and Chairman David Sullivan revealed to talkSPORT last October that a deal to sign the Serbian had fallen through after talks between West Ham and Fiorentina broke down.
The Hammers targeted Milenkovic with boss Moyes desperate for defensive reinforcements before the arrival of Craig Dawson on loan from Watford, and are expected to again target signings to improve the London Stadium backline this summer.
Moyes and Sullivan would face strong competition in any attempt to revive interest in Milenkovic, with Manchester United now considered the favourites to sign the 23-year-old.
Milenkovic is out of contract at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in the summer of 2022 and is currently unlikely to pen new terms with Cesare Prandelli’s side, though Fiorentina will still hold out for the right fee in the next off-season.
La Viola President Rocco Commisso considers the 26-cap international to be worth €40m (£34.5m), yet it is anticipated that the Serie A side will have to accept a lesser sum given Milenkovic’s contract situation.
West Ham could face a tall ordeal trying to sign Milenkovic in the next transfer window with Manchester United now considered the favourites for his signature, but Moyes can land a potential Ogbonna upgrade in the €29,000-per-week (£25k-p/w) defender.
Moyes lauds the impact Ogbonna brings to east London, having described the Italian as a “magnificent” and “really important” player following his high ankle sprain sustained in the FA Cup defeat to the Red Devils earlier this month.
Ogbonna had also started all 23 available Premier League fixtures this season and only failed to play the full 90 minutes during November’s 1-0 win over Fulham, having been forced off with half an hour remaining due to a feared groin injury.
Yet the 32-year-old’s efforts in the top-flight lag behind Milenkovic’s Serie A performances to date this term in a number of ways, to suggest that the younger Fiorentina star would be a very useful pick-up if the Irons were to repursue the former FK Partizan Beograd enforcer.
The Serbian also provides a higher number of interceptions (1.4) than the Italian (1.0) and is more successful in the air, with 3.5 duels won to 2.2. He further retains possession and plays the ball more adequately after winning it back, with 47.2 accurate passes (86%) to the Hammers ace’s 28.8 (80%).
Ogbonna’s only true leading trait over Milenkovic is in clearances (4.4 to 3.2), suggesting Moyes would not only land an upgrade in winning the ball back in the Manchester United target, but one who would see West Ham improve their ability to play out from defence as well.
It remains to be seen how willing Commisso is to lower his valuation and reduce the €15m (£13m) difference between his asking price and West Ham’s rejected offer.
Yet the Irons should at least return to the table to express their interest again.