- West Ham could sell Angelo Ogbonna for just £10.7m, according to Calciomercatonews.com.
The Italy international was one of Slaven Bilic’s first signings as West Ham manager last summer and has been one of the most impressive and consistent members of the Hammers’ squad ever since.
But the report coming from Italy claims Inter Milan are interesting in signing the 28-year-old in January as manager Frank De Boer looks to strengthen his defence.
The report also claims Angelo Ogbonna would be open to a move back to Italy, presumably for the chance to compete in either the Europa League of Champions League in the near future.
It claims Inter are considering a bid of 12million euros (£10.7m), but it is unlikely West Ham would accept anything below the reported £10m they paid Juventus for his services just over a year ago.
Furthermore, it would be surprising to see the club even entertain any offers for defenders in January, let alone one of arguably their strongest defensive asset.
Bilic’s squad has been decimated with injuries to key defensive players already this season and it is more likely the Croat will use the January transfer market to strengthen his back line rather than allow anyone to leave.
Ogbonna has hugely impressed in claret and blue since arriving in East London, making 44 appearances in all competitions for the Hammers. He famously scored a last minute winner in extra-time to beat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth replay at the Boleyn Ground last season.
That goal, his only goal for the club to date, instantly made him a fans’ favourite, so his potential departure could lead to further unrest among supporters at the London Stadium.
Ogbonna has made six first appearances for the Hammers so far this season. In the Premier League he has averaged 1.2 tackles, 3.4 interceptions and 3.4 clearances per game, which proves how important he has been to the Hammers’ defence.
Some would say signing Angelo Ogbonna was just like winning the American Powerball, such has been his importance to Bilic’s side.
The fans have him down as something of a cult hero and would begrudge any decision to allow the Italian to leave during a season in which defence has been the side’s biggest weakness.
With Aaron Cresswell being ruled out for four months in pre-season and James Tomkins deciding to move on for more regular first team football, the last thing the club needs is further uncertainty at the back.
Ogbonna’s departure could lead to more problems than solutions in the long run, even if Bilic is able to identify and sign a worthwhile replacement. Having signed 13 players in the summer – none of which have significantly impressed so far – surely it would make more sense to keep the core of the squad in place instead of risking rocking the boat?
Whatever the club decides to do in January, keeping Ogbonna should be top of the list of priorities. They will only have a month to find a good enough replacement while, if they held out until the summer, it would give them much more time to plan for his departure.
However, Inter’s reported intentions to bid just £10.7m will no doubt be laughed at by the club, who paid just under £10m for him last summer.