West Ham United could seal their biggest signing since Dimitri Payet amid emerging reports ahead of the January transfer window.
In some ways, it shows the substantial progress the east London outfit have made under David Moyes, going from relegation contenders to competing for a place in the Champions League – and more than holding their own.
There has been a lack of ‘marquee’ signings in recent years but that’s not a bad thing as their recruitment has been pretty spot-on, with relatively unknown names like Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming crucial influences on the pitch.
Having Jesse Lingard on loan and splashing £30m on Champions League winner Kurt Zouma is certainly a step in the right direction, but everything could be eclipsed by the prospective arrival of Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria.
According to Italian outlet Calciomercato, the Irons are among the teams interested in signing the 25-year-old this winter as he attracts interest from across Europe, though they’ll be battling Premier League rivals Everton, as well as Serie A giants Juventus, for his signature.
Gladbach head coach Adi Hutter is desperate to bolster his playing squad next month but he’ll only be able to do so if he garners some more income, so selling the Switzerland international could be in his best interests, especially as the player is out of contract in the summer and is currently valued at £24.3m.
A new central option in the midfield engine room may be the least of the Hammers’ concerns but they simply cannot turn their nose up at sealing a player of Zakaria’s calibre for a bargain price in January.
Of course, club captain Mark Noble is retiring, plus there may be some doubts over loanee Alex Kral’s credentials. Meanwhile, there are always doubts and reports on the future of Declan Rice at the London Stadium.
“It’s not easy to compare him to the greats of the past, but he combines many qualities that were really defined by Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane,” claimed international and domestic teammate Yan Sommer.
German football legend Lothar Matthaus once stated: “I’m glad that Gladbach have found another pearl. At his age I was earning my first stripes for Borussia. He reminds me of Toni Kroos at that age.”
The 40-cap beast has consistently put up impressive numbers in the Bundesliga and for his country – as per WhoScored, Zakaria has averaged 2.3 successful tackles, 1.6 interceptions, 1.4 dribbles and 1.1 shots per 90 minutes over the course of his career.
By no means would he be a flair player like Payet once was, but the box-to-box dynamo would be a major coup for the club, one which would shock many around the continent, just as it did with the silky Frenchman all those years ago.
Zakaria, who has been dubbed a “very complete footballer” his former manager Marco Rose, would be a sublime addition for head of recruitment Rob Newman to secure. He must do all he can to win the race to sign him this winter.