David Moyes’ West Ham United have been linked with a move for a number of Sky Bet Championship players this summer as they look to have secured their Premier League safety and start to turn their attention to the next transfer window, here are five of their second-tier targets that they can’t afford to miss out on.
James Maddison (Norwich City)
The Norwich star is perhaps the most high-profile player on this list and the most in demand too, certainly the youngest at 21 and a current mainstay of Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21 squad.
The attacking midfielder has been highly-impressive in the Championship this campaign, scoring a remarkable 15 goals from his position and helping the Canaries to a consistent campaign thus far in mid-table.
This youngster has been linked with the Hammers several times in recent seasons and is thought to be liked very much by the club, although he is reportedly being valued at a pricy £25 million.
Other clubs rumoured to be interested include the likes of some of the Top-Flight’s big guns in Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur and this may prove to be the only barrier in the deal to bring the promising charge to the London Stadium in the summer.
Should he be wearing the Claret & Blue any time soon, he would certainly provide stern competition to the likes of Manuel Lanzini in the No10 role and fill the void left by his several injuries per-season, but will he be willing to play second fiddle initially?
Tom Cairney (Fulham)
Due to the Irons’ ageing midfield, two midfielders make this list, the aforementioned attacking one and a slightly more defensive option in the first of three Fulham stars, captain Tom Cairney.
The Scottish international has Premier League experience from his days at Hull City and is 27-years-of-age, having been at Craven Cottage since the start of the 2015/2016 season.
The tall central man made it into the PFA Championship Team of the Season last term as the Cottagers narrowly missed out on promotion and has just been nominated for the Championship player of the Season award for his efforts this campaign.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s men are on the cusp of getting back into the Top-Flight, currently occupying second place, an automatic promotion spot, albeit Cardiff City below do have a game in hand.
The West Londoners’ promotion could be a motive for any of West Ham’s Fulham targets to remain at the club, but the signs do look promising for Hammers supporters with Cairney, though him sitting close to the technical area at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon as the East Londoners drew 1-1, was a mere coincidence.
Ryan Fredericks (Fulham)
Moyes’ men will undoubtedly be in the market for a few defenders this season after various outgoings and some underwhelming displays at the back this season and who better to look at than the man being dubbed the Championship’s best right-back?
Ryan Fredericks, the 25-year-old, who was only released by Tottenham three years ago, is another in this list to have turned out for the Three Lions at youth level and another to play his football at Craven Cottage.
And plenty of football too as the pacey defender has made 41 appearances in all competitions since the start of August, the first-choice for a London rival that has wildly impressed in their push for promotion this season.
However, unfortunately, as is the case with many here, the Irons aren’t the only ones chasing his signature with Everton and Swansea City also in the hunt, he is out of contract this summer, so a free transfer is a possibility.
It’s not hard to see that Fredericks is needed by the Hammers with veteran Pablo Zabaleta, who has only missed one league match at right-back all season, ebbing ever closer to retirement and his back-up Sam Byram suffering his fair share of injuries of late, this is a potential pull for the Englishman.
Pontus Jansson (Leeds United)
To the only non-British name in this five, a Leeds United talent in Swedish International Pontus Jansson, the man Moyes has reportedly gone to scout in person himself in times recent.
Jansson will be a relatively new name on members of the Claret & Blue Army, but his performances last season made him a household name in Yorkshire, although he has somewhat struggled to reach those heights this time around.
This hasn’t stopped him from being a regular starter at Elland Road, however, as he has made only one less appearance than Fredericks at Fulham this season, scoring three goals from centre-back in the process.
Of late, Jansson’s form has slipped with his club’s, who have moved out of the hunt for promotion and back into mid-table, 14th, since the new year with an ever-diminishing hope of making the play-off and he was carried off injured in Leeds’ last match away at Preston North End.
If he decides to up sticks and move to the capital, he will be the first Swede since Freddie Ljungberg to appear in East London, a hard act to follow, but with injury-prone defenders and the recent departure of the likes of Jose Fonte, Moyes will be looking for a new centre-half.
Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham)
An area that you could almost bet your bottom dollar on the Hammers bolstering in the summer is the goalkeeper position and the man leading the race very much is the Cottagers’ shot-stopper, the third and final Fulham player here.
Marcus Bettinelli also played for the Three Lions U21s back in the day and is 25 now, a product of the Whites’ Academy, with whom he has spent his whole career thus far and may be difficult to prize into leaving.
The keeper’s record this term speaks for itself, ten clean sheets in 23 outings, that’s only two less than the East Londoners have made as a whole this season, in 39 matches in all competitions this season.
But, Bettinelli hasn’t been the Lilywhites’ first-choice keeper for the whole of the season, only taking the gloves from David Button in December, he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands this season, quite literally, making him an outsider for an England senior call-up.
The Hammers do appear to be the front-runners to sign the consistent shot-stopper and with the future of Manchester City loanee Joe Hart uncertain, so too Adrian San-Miguel who has shared the gloves with him this season, and youngster Nathan Trott perhaps a tad young to make the step-up, this transfer is perhaps the likeliest of these.
So, now that you have been given the five Championship West Ham United transfer targets that Moyes must pursue in the summer, will these deals happen? And can these players following the footsteps of the likes of Aaron Cresswell, Michail Antonio and Byram coming from the second tier of English football in recent seasons? Let us know what you think on Twitter @MooreThanAClub.