Cheikhou Kouyate has left for Crystal Palace and Pedro Obiang reportedly wants to return to Sampdoria and may well be sold to fund the pursuit of a central defender, which means that Manuel Pellegrini is short of central midfield options and may be about to get shorter.

Of course, the likes of Josh Cullen may well step into the breach – and the Hammers fans would love nothing more than a youth prospect to follow Declan Rice into the first team – but West Ham have needed a reliable holding midfielder for quite some time now.

The protracted but doomed pursuit of William Carvalho last summer indicated that Slaven Bilic knew it and it is still the case with less than a week of the current transfer window remaining.

FARO, PORTUGAL – JULY 25: William Carvalho of Real Betis Balompie looks on during the match between Olympique Marseille v Real Betis at Estadio Algarve on July 25, 2018 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images)

Carvalho has since moved to Real Betis in light of the farcical situation at Sporting Lisbon – which is just as well because the Portuguese international was an overpriced and overrated option – but the Hammers’ need for a disciplined holder is still strong.

That’s why reports linking Pellegrini with a loan move for Juventus’ midfielder Stefano Sturaro are so encouraging.

The 25-year-old has never quite established himself in Turin but he has four caps for Italy, four Serie A titles and four Coppa Italias to his name, which underlines the quality he has.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JULY 31: Head coach Gennaro Gattuso of AC Milan leaves the field after the International Champions Cup 2018 versus the Tottenham Hotspur at U.S. Bank Stadium on July 31, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jules Ameel/Getty Images)

Sturaro has been compared to legendary AC Milan holding midfielder Gennaro Gattuso and a player with that energy and discipline to screen his new-look defence is exactly what Pellegrini needs.

 

The Italian is reliable, versatile, and technically very sound and a partnership of Sturaro and say, Jack Wilshere, together in midfield would provide Pellegrini with two energetic, technical players capable of playing from deep but also bursting forward to link up with the attack and dictate play.

In that sense, he is the ideal man to help Pellegrini solve his problem position and provide an upgrade on Kouyate, and bringing him in on loan would leave funds for a swoop elsewhere.

The Juventus man would solve a long-standing issue in the ideal way. He would be yet another brilliant addition if Pellegrini can get the deal done.

 

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