May 9, 2021

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West Ham join roster of contenders for ‘outstanding’ championship defender


West Ham United would love Nottingham Forest defender Joe Worrall very much as they consider possible European football next season.

The Hammers have had a superb season in the Premier League and sit fifth in the table. They had flirted with the top four and were looking for a place in the Champions League. But back-to-back defeats to Newcastle United and Chelsea mean the Europa League is now a more realistic proposition.

There is still time to get past fourth-placed Chelsea, but the Blues’ form suggests that is unlikely to happen. Whatever happens by May 23, it’s inevitable that manager David Moyes will get stronger this summer.

A new striker emerges as a priority but rumors persist that the Scotsman also wants to add to his rearguard. A number of names have already been mentioned and Worrall has been added to the list of potential targets.

The East End outfit currently has Fabian Balbuena, Craig dawson, Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna as center-back options. But Balbuena is out of contract this summer, so new recruits will be needed to strengthen the ranks.

Worrall could be the man after his exploits at the City Ground. The 24-year-old has started 30 league games for Forest this term and helped them get to safety in the middle of the table.

After going through the club’s youth roster, center-half Rangy made his debut in October 2016. He made 136 appearances in all competitions and spent the 2018-19 season on loan with Rangers.

The Hucknall-born stopper received rave reviews during his time at Ibrox, with manager Steven Gerard calling him a ‘leader’ and ‘outstanding’. He returned to Forest and played every minute of the club’s 2019-20 championship campaign.

Much interest in Worrall

If West Ham is to be successful in luring Worrall to the London stadium, he will have to fend off other Premier League clubs. End of 2019 Arsenal is said to have had an interest while Burnley is known to be longtime admirers.

Norwich City have also been linked and it seems obvious it will be a busy summer for their agent. But the Hammers’ high position and the prospect of European football could give them the edge in the negotiations.

Worrall has long been considered a quality player in the Premier League. And it would be a surprise to see him again with Forest in the next quarter.

East Midlanders boss Chris Hughton won’t want to lose his stone at the back but, as always, finances will dictate. The pandemic means cash flow is tight and lower league clubs must do all they can to balance the books.

It may mean sacrificing a young talent but they will don’t let him go on the cheap.

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