Reports by Torino Granata earlier this week have given West Ham United a huge boost in the race to sign Nikola Maksimovic, as Inter Milan are reluctant to meet the SSC Napoli defender’s demands over a potential summer transfer.
Maksimovic is set to leave the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium at the end of the season as chances of the Serbian signing a new contract with Gennaro Gattuso’s side are almost zero.
But Inter are growing slightly cold over a free transfer of the in-demand centre-back, as they feel his request of a €2.5m-a-season (£41.5k-p/w) contract is too much.
The Nerazzurri are also assessing alternative options to strengthen Antonio Conte’s backline in the off-season, with ex-Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi and Real Betis titan Aissa Mandi under consideration.
Inter are yet to completely withdraw from the race to sign Maksimovic and could schedule a new meeting with his agent, Fali Ramadani, having spoken with the £11m-rated enforcer’s representative recently.
But the San Siro natives’ cold feet has swung the door wide open for a rival suitor to swoop, with Maksimovic said to be on the radars of a host of European clubs including West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur.
FC Porto, AS Roma and ACF Fiorentina are also listed as potential destinations for the 29-year-old, who recent reports in Spain had claimed was set to seal a summer move to the London Stadium as David Moyes is a big fan of the £38k-p/w enforcer.
Rumours now emerging in Italy that Inter are getting cold feet over awarding Maksimovic a contract that would see him earn marginally more than the £40k-p/w the Irons currently pay summer free-agent Fabian Balbuena will be seen as a huge boost in Moyes’ pursuit.
Clearly, though, West Ham have hurdles in their way toward getting Maksimovic to sign on the dotted line, which David Sullivan should strive to overcome to afford Moyes the added senior depth he is claimed to be after.
The Hammers also pursued Maksimovic last summer but Sullivan and Moyes were denied the 25-cap international’s services, with talkSPORT claiming that a £14m offer was rejected and Calciomercato.it later suggesting Napoli snubbed an improved €25m (£21.5m) bid.
Sullivan and Moyes landing their man this year can see West Ham acquire a defender who has previously been compared with his compatriot Nemanja Vidic, as 6 ft 4 Maksimovic is a real powerhouse defender like the Manchester United great.
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti also described Maksimovic as a “complete” defender who “has no problems” during his time in charge of Napoli, and may yet emerge as an another rival suitor after requesting information from Ramadani on his situation.
But with Balbuena seemingly on his way out of the London Stadium and Moyes said to want additional senior options alongside Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop and Craig Dawson – who the Irons have confirmed has triggered a £2m purchase clause – Sullivan should be putting a lot of effort into ensuring Maksimovic is wearing claret and blue next season.
AND in other news, West Ham dodged a £32m bullet in a 2017 deal dubbed a “real coup”…