West Ham United are reportedly interested in signing Mainz defender Moussa Niakhate this summer as David Moyes looks to bolster his defensive options.
The commanding central defender can also play at left-back and has featured in 24 of Mainz’s 28 Bundesliga matches this term, scoring three goals and keeping eight clean sheets.
Currently, the Irons have Kurt Zouma, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop at centre-back, although the Italian has spent the majority of the season on the sidelines with an ACL injury, while Diop could depart this summer amid reported interest from Ligue 1 outfit Lyon.
Therefore, it’s vital that Moyes adds to his defensive arsenal in the upcoming transfer window.
Zouma has done well to establish himself as the clear first-choice centre-back in his first season at West Ham following last summer’s £29.8m move from Chelsea. However, the Frenchman needs a regular partner, with the likes of Dawson, Ogbonna and Diop all taking turns this season to partner the 27-year-old.
Moreover, left-back is also an area which needs addressing, with Aaron Cresswell now 32 years of age. In fact, the Hammers squad is the second oldest in the Premier League, with an average age of 28.8.
With Niakhate, these issues can be solved.
The Mainz captain stands at 6 foot 3 and averages 1.4 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 2.1 clearances per league game. For context, Zouma averages a lower tally of 0.6 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per match but also makes a whopping 5.6 clearances.
In Niakhate, West Ham can find their new Rio Ferdinand in colossus of a defender on whom they can later make a profit, particularly if £8m is the German club’s asking price.
Described as “clever” by Mainz manager Bo Svensson, the £12k-per-week French defender can add much-needed depth and quality to the Irons’ squad, which will be vital if Moyes’ side are to qualify for Europe again for 2022/23.
Having balanced four competitions over the course of the season, the Hammers’ lack of squad depth has been exposed at times, particularly when injuries have stacked up.
The lack of depth makes the upcoming transfer window particularly vital, especially considering that the east Londoners made no signings in January.
With reinforcements needed in essentially every position, Moyes will need to be shrewd in how he spends the transfer kitty provided to him, making a potential £8m deal for Niakhate an undoubted bargain swoop which must be made.