West Ham United are believed to be interested in a move for Bologna defender Arthur Theate, according to reports in Italy.
As per Gazzetta dello Sport (via Sports Witness), the Hammers have been handed a boost in their pursuit of the centre-back, as the 22-year-old ‘could be sacrificed’ by the Serie A outfit if manager Sinisa Mihajlovic opts for a change in formation next term.
The Belgium international only joined his current side, initially on loan, from Oostende last summer, although could well be moved on in the upcoming window, with the Hammers, who like the player, potentially set to be able to secure his services for roughly €10m (£8.5m), as per the report.
With rumours abound that the east London outfit are also closing in on the signing of Rennes centre-back Nayef Aguerd, it would suggest that the centre of defence has become something of a priority for GSB, with the club in need of both depth and quality.
That fact has been heightened by the concerning fall from grace for 25-year-old Issa Diop, the once-promising Frenchman having been restricted to just ten league starts in the most recent campaign, while he only made 15 top-flight starts the season before.
Once dubbed a “monster” by former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, the £61k-per-week brute has endured a sad slump of late, having simply slid down the pecking order under Moyes behind the likes of Craig Dawson and Kurt Zouma.
When he has featured, however, the former Toulouse man – who joined the Irons on a then club-record £22m deal in 2018 – has largely failed to take his chance, averaging just a 6.69 average match rating in the league in the 2021/22 season – the 17th-lowest record among the West Ham squad.
Equally, in comparison to his fellow centre-backs across Europe’s top five leagues he also fares poorly, notably ranking in just the top 78% for tackles made, the top 74% for aerials won, as well as only the top 90% for progressive passes, illustrating his struggles both in and out of possession.
By contrast, Theate compares far more favourably to his continental peers, ranking in the top 14% for pressures made and the top 15% for interceptions, while with the ball at his feet he has all shone, ranking in the top 6% for dribbles completed and the top 15% for progressive carries.
The “old school” defender – as he has been dubbed by Italian football Conor Clancy – has that unique ability to provide a rock-solid defensive presence as well as being comfortable in playing out from the back, a quality that only further enhances the bargain nature of his rumoured transfer fee.
There may be concerns as to why his current side are potentially so willing to cash in, although on the evidence of the past year or so it would be no major risk were GSB to strike a deal, with Theate seemingly a player who is only set to progress even further.
As for that man Diop, it would appear that his race is run in English football, with the player – who was once reportedly the subject of a £45m bid from the Red Devils – now valued at just £10.8m, a stark illustration of his decline.