West Ham United have reportedly tabled a €14 million bid for Duje Caleta-Car but is it a ploy to force  Fiorentina’s hand on Nikola Milenkovic?

According to French outlet L’Equipe, Premier League side West Ham United have made their move to land Croatian international defender Duje Caleta-Car from Ligue 1 outfit Marseille.

This comes just a year after the player refused to consider a switch to the London-based side. The 24-year-old was keen to experience UEFA Champions League football with Marseille, and one cannot fault him for passing on the Hammers’ interest. However, a year can make a big difference, and now West Ham are set to embark on a European adventure of their own.

The east Londoners have not given up on the player and have now tabled a bid for his services. Worth an initial €14 million, the fee could rise to €17 million, including bonuses. Marseille are, however, holding out for €20 million, and it remains to be seen if they will have their way. Caleta-Car still has two years to go on his current deal, handing the French giants leeway in negotiations.

As things stand, talks between both clubs are ongoing as they seek to reach an amicable conclusion. West Ham’s London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, are also interested in the defender. However, they are yet to make a move for his services. The same goes for Liverpool, who came close to landing him last January.

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With Fabian Balbuena out of the picture and Angelo Ogbonna not getting any younger, centre-back is a position that needs strengthening at the London Stadium. David Moyes’s side showed much promise last season, ending the season strongly. The onus is now on them to build on that success and add quality to their squad incrementally.

A colossus in the air, Caleta-Car can give the best strikers a run for their money and will add to West Ham’s attack on set pieces. Add to it his ability to bring the ball out, and he would certainly bring something fresh to the Hammers’ backline. This is, however, offset by his ability to look sensational one moment and rather clumsy the next.

While there is certainly potential in the 24-year-old Croat, he is far from a refined player who can stand out in the Premier League. Whether Moyes can gauge the best out of him at West Ham remains to be seen.

While Marseille finished a respectable fifth last season, they did little of note otherwise. It is perhaps apt that Caleta-Car also enjoyed a similar season where he did not particularly stand out. The fact that the high point of his season came during Croatia’s disappointing run in the Euros speaks volumes of its own.

The Hammers already have an excellent player in Issa Diop, who is a sure-shot starter for them when fit. While Caleta-Car could slot in beside him, there appears to be better value in the market. Ozan Kabak is available for a throwaway price, while Nikola Milenkovic has also been linked with West Ham. Whether the bid for Caleta-Car was made to force Fiorentina’s hand regarding Milenkovic remains to be seen. It would certainly come as a surprise if they went for both players this summer.

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