West Ham are continuing their pursuit of Chelsea centre-back Kurt Zouma as David Moyes aims to bolster his defensive options before the end of the transfer window.
Following the permanent departure of Fabian Balbuena and the loan move of Frederik Alves, the Hammers are light of options in central defence and Zouma has been earmarked as the answer.
Moyes namechecked 17-year-old Jamal Baptiste as a player he has high hopes for but was clear in his desire to add to his squad, with football.london understanding a centre-back is a top priority.
Speaking after the 4-2 win against Newcastle Moyes said: “I have 17-year-old centre-half Jamal [Baptiste] who I want involved in the first-team training but undoubtedly I am going to try and add to the squad. I will be adding a defender and maybe other players as well but then if I don’t, I will be happy if the players perform as well as they did today.
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“If the players perform as well as they did last season and today then it means whoever we bring in has got to be at a very good level.”
West Ham were reported to be close to completing a transfer for Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic earlier in the transfer window but the deal is understood to have fallen through due to the fees demanded by agents.
The Hammers have now turned again to Champions League winner Zouma, with a deal reported to hinge on the France international’s wage demands.
Chelsea are open to a deal for Zouma to leave the club, with Thomas Tuchel’s side reported to be keen to bring in Jules Kounde as his replacement, with Kounde and Trevoh Chalobah ahead of the 26-year-old in the manager’s thinking.
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Zouma has two years left on his deal at Stamford Bridge and is amenable to a move across London. However, according to the Evening Standard, his wage demands are currently a major obstacle.
The Frenchman is reportedly holding out for over £100,000-a-week, a figure the Hammers are not prepared to pay.
With just two weeks left in the transfer window and West Ham in clear need of defensive reinforcements, talks are expected to continue in earnest in an attempt to reach a compromise between the two parties.