Alfie Mawson has just joined Premier League new-boys Fulham from relegated Swansea in a deal reported to be worth in the region of £20m, but West Ham were linked with the Englishman earlier on in the transfer window.
Manuel Pellegrini has embarked on an overhaul of his defence and Mawson was reportedly of interest to the Manchester City manager.
However, Hammers fans shouldn’t worry about the fact that the towering defender has pitched up in west, and not east, London this summer.
The market for English centre-halves exploded when John Stones joined Manchester City from Everton for £50m in 2016, but last summer saw Michael Keane join Everton for £30m, bumping up the prices for even just above-average domestic stoppers.
Keane enjoyed a strong season in a defensively-minded Burnley side but was utterly exposed in a more expansive Everton team, and there must be the fear that Mawson will suffer similarly at Fulham.
He is a strong, confident defender, but a £20m transfer fee is just a sign of the English premium, which is ironic given that it is widely agreed that the Three Lions do not currently boast any elite centre-backs.
The recruits of Issa Diop and Fabian Balbeuna to join Winston Reid, Declan Rice and Angelo Ogbonna as Pellegrini’s central defensive options mean that paying a bumper price for Mawson would make little to no sense for the Hammers.
Fulham’s need was much more acute – they’re still desperately short of defenders – so paying the money makes much more sense for them.
The feeling persists that Mawson still has a lot to learn and £20m can be better spent on another area of the team at this stage – defensive midfield or central midfield spring to mind – so him joining Fulham is not a major miss.