West Ham United can forget Issa Diop with a swoop for FC Schalke 04 centre-back Ozan Kabak during the January transfer window.
According to Sport1, the Irons and AC Milan are among a clutch of sides interested in a deal for Kabak in the mid-season market with Schalke now ready to sell the Turkey international.
It was long-believed in Germany that Die Konigsblauen would refuse to part ways with the 20-year-old but have now warmed to his exit, as Kabak is considered to be one of only a few players who Schalke can still cash-in on to fund winter reinforcements.
Schalke value Kabak at €15m (£13.5m) but West Ham could face competition from Liverpool, as Jurgen Klopp is said to be a big admirer of the seven-cap centre-back former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner lauds as “one of the most talented defenders of his age in Europe”.
Kabak has been a pivotal part of the Schalke backline this season despite a bumpy start, after the Galatasaray product saw his one-game ban extended to four matches following an indirect sending off late into matchday two’s 3-1 loss at home to Werder Bremen.
Schalke have endured a torrid campaign this season having been one of Europe’s biggest disappointments, yet Kabak has come through the gloomy results as a rare shining light at the Veltins Arena – even with his sending off.
Kabak has commanded the centre-back slot in Schalke’s backline with a commanding threat, with the 6 ft 1 titan offering three clearances, blocking two shots, making one successful tackle and winning each of his two aerial duels in Saturday’s 4-0 win over TSG Hoffenheim, per SofaScore.
His performance took Kabak’s numbers for the season so far to an average of 1.0 successful tackles, 3.5 clearances, 3.1 ground duels won and 4.1 aerial duels won per Bundesliga appearance, despite this weekend’s commanding rout marking Die Konigsblauen’s first league win of the season.
West Ham signing Kabak in January would free the east London outfit to also move on from Diop, who has fallen out of favour under David Moyes and is now being touted with transfers left, right and centre.
Moyes stated last month that Diop would not be going anywhere amid interest from Liverpool, yet reports have continued to emerge of interest at West Bromwich Albion, OGC Nice and even rivals Tottenham Hotspur (Mirror, 5/1, p. 47).
The French defender, who the Irons signed for a then club-record £22m in 2018, has played just 117 minutes of action since testing positive for coronavirus in September and has now fallen behind Craig Dawson, with the Watford loanee starting the Hammers’ last two Premier League matches.
Former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell firmly expects Diop’s time at the London Stadium to be over this month, having backed the £67,000-per-week dud to follow Sebastien Haller in securing a permanent exit.