Some might say it’s six months too late but it does appear David Moyes is on the verge of signing another central midfielder.
Back in January we were all begging the club to add depth to the centre of midfield, knowing that it was only a matter of time before one of Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek succumbed to injury and left us painfully short in what is probably the strongest part of our starting XI.
It never happened and, like clockwork, injury struck in April as Declan Rice was forced to miss six games, his absence being attributed to one of the potential reasons why we couldn’t maintain our top-four status.
That’s in the past, though, and we did go on to finish 6th – our highest finish since 1999 – to ensure a place in next season’s Europa League group stages. But with that comes the added pressure of building squad depth this summer, which is exactly what David Moyes appears to be doing.
If reports over the last few days are to be believed – with the news being confirmed by insider ExWHUemployee this week – we have agreed terms with Spartak Moscow midfielder Alex Kral.
The 23-year-old Czech international, who is valued at just £9m by transfermarkt.com, was at Slavia Prague with Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal before his switch to Russia in September 2019 and also has the same agent as Coufal. His agent has recently admitted that the Hammers are eager to get a deal completed before the Euros starts later this month.
Not a great deal is known of Kral on these shores, but given we’ve already struck gold with Soucek and Coufal in recent windows, I think we can all sit back and trust that Moyes is bringing in a player who he believes will strengthen the squad and provide good competition for Rice and Soucek next season. He also has plenty of international and European experience, which will come in handy next term.
According to WhoScored, Kral’s strengths include ball interception, dribbling, passing and aerial duels, which are all pretty useful strengths to have as a central midfielder. With an average of 56 passes-per-game and a pass success rate of 81%, it’s clear he likes to get on the ball and is often very economical with it.
So they’re all plusses as far as I’m concerned and, despite not seeing much of him in action, I trust Moyes completely where this deal is concerned. I was silly enough to question his decision to bring in Jesse Lingard in January, so what do I know!?
But what might be the best bit of business here is, if a report by westhamfans.org is to be believed, is the hope that we can use Andriy Yarmolenko as a makeweight in the deal to bring Kral to east London.
Yarmolenko’s time in east London has been stop-start – that’s probably being generous – and even when fit throughout 2020/2021, he struggled for game time. With wages of a reported £115k-a-week, it’s no wonder the club is looking for ways to offload him this summer, and perhaps Spartak might bite if we’re lucky.
It’s a shrewd move because it gets a huge lump off the wage bill for starters, but if it also brings down the transfer fee paid for Kral then it means Moyes will have a bit more to throw at his other transfer targets, with a striker and a full-back also on the priority list.
So while it’s not a done deal yet and it’s just insiders and fan blogs breaking the news right now, it does seems as though Moyes has moved early to get his man.
How long before we’re renamed Czech FC?!