West Ham United were already in need of midfield reinforcements before the sale of Cheikhou Kouyate to Crystal Palace.
However, that move has only served to intensify Manuel Pellegrini’s need to beef up his engine room. The protracted, but ultimately doomed, pursuit of William Carvalho last summer proves that the need for a midfield enforcer pre-dates the former Manchester City manager’s appointment, but it falls to the Chilean to bring one in before the transfer window slams shut.
With that in mind, we have taken a look at three midfielders – with varying skill sets – who could plug the gap left by Kouyate’s departure…
Mario Lemina – Southampton
Kouyate’s energy is perhaps what West Ham will miss the most and, if that is the case, then Saints’ man Lemina could help fill the breach.
The former Juventus man had a mixed first season in English football. He showed signs of what he could offer at both ends of the pitch, but was also guilty of going missing and failing to offer suitable resistance at times as Southampton slipped towards relegation.
They survived of course, but West Ham’s prospects under Pellegrini look far brighter than Southampton’s under Hughes, and reigniting reported interest in the Gabonese star could ensure Kouyate isn’t missed.
Abdoulaye Doucoure – Watford
He needed a season to bed in to English football, but he was one of Watford’s best performers in 2017/18. Like his teammates, his form tailed off after Marco Silva’s departure, but he showed energy, discipline and a decent passing range at times.
A tall, rangy player, he would provide a sturdy presence in front of the back four and provide a platform for West Ham’s array of attacking stars to flourish, even if he does lack a little bit of finesse at times.
Scott McTominay – Manchester United
McTominay is not the most spectacular product of Manchester United’s academy, but he diligently carries out whatever Jose Mourinho asks him to do.
Like Doucoure, he is a tall defensive midfielder who would provide a steady base, and with Fred coming in to provide another roadblock to the first team at Old Trafford, he may be open to the prospect of a loan spell.
A loan deal would be cheap enough to maintain funds for another area of the team and McTominay showed enough in his debut season at United to prove he can cut it in the top flight.