West Ham United are reportedly eyeing a move for Napoli midfielder, Fabian Ruiz, according to reports coming out of Italy.
As per Il Mattino (via Sports Witness), the Hammers are said to have ‘never stopped thinking’ about the Spaniard – as well as teammate Piotr Zielinski – as manager David Moyes plots a new midfield recruit.
The suggestion is that the east London outfit are yet to tempt the Serie A side into a sale with their offers thus far, with previous reports having revealed that the 26-year-old could be available for a fee in the region of €30m (£26m), with just a year remaining on his existing deal.
Despite having already brought in Flynn Downes from Swansea City so far this summer, the Premier League side are in need of further additions in the centre of the park following the retirement of long-serving skipper, Mark Noble, having also opted against signing Alex Kral on a permanent deal.
Dubbed an “artist” by football talent scout Jacek Kulig, Ruiz is a gloriously gifted playmaker who simply oozes class when in possession of the ball, helping to keep things ticking over while also providing a cutting edge in the final third.
The £48k-per-week menace enjoyed a particularly impressive campaign last time out in Naples, netting seven goals and providing four assists in 32 league games for Luciano Spalletti’s side, while also averaging an impressive 90% pass accuracy rate per game.
Formerly of Real Betis – whom he left to join his current side back in 2018 – the 15-cap international is comfortable both in a deep-lying or more advanced midfield role, proving himself a hugely versatile and flexible asset who could well thrive in Moyes’ side.
Not only a star at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, the £49.5m-rated gem also compares favourably among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, notably averaging 5.74 progressive carries and 5.35 progressive passes per game, while also ranking in the top 3% for attempted passes.
That quality with the ball at his feet sees the “spectacular” ace – as described by former Betis boss Quique Setien – bare a striking resemblance to that of compatriot Thiago Alcantara, with the pair sharing several statistical and stylistic similarities, as per FBref.
That comparison will set pulses racing at the London Stadium such is the immense talent of the Liverpool man, with the 31-year-old simply a master of his craft and one of the most delightful footballers to watch when in his stride.
Although Ruiz has some way to go to match the consistent brilliance of the former Bayern Munich man – who averages a stunning 9.74 progressive passes and 8.39 progressive carries per game – the signs are that he is a player of similar ilk, with the Irons potentially set to have a real gem on their hands if a deal can be struck.