West Ham United are reportedly planning to hijack Aston Villa in their pursuit of 26-year-old Southampton defender Jan Bednarek.
Aston Villa will reportedly face stiff competition from West Ham United in the race to sign Jan Bednarek from fellow Premier League club Southampton. That is according to a report in the print edition of The Sunday Mirror, as relayed by Hammers News, which claims that West Ham have now entered the chase for the 26-year-old Poland international, but the Villans are currently leading the race.
Bednarek’s future at St. Mary’s is under the scanner as the Saints are open to selling him for the right price this summer, even though he still has three years left to run on his current contract. He has been pushed down the pecking order under Ralph Hasenhuttl, who is putting an emphasis on youth and prefers the pairing of Mohammed Salisu and summer signing Armel Bella-Kotchap.
The 26-year-old centre-back’s situation has drawn the admiring glances of several clubs, both from the Premier League and from abroad. It is understood that West Ham and Aston Villa both want an experienced centre-back before the transfer window closes on the Thursday night deadline.
West Ham United have been very active this summer. Making six first-team signings in a certain statement of intent from the east Londoners, who are now setting their sights on a new defensive target in Bednarek.
It is reported that David Moyes is eyeing another defender despite the recent arrival of Thilo Kehrer from Paris Saint-Germain. It is perhaps unsurprising given their issues with injuries at the back, including summer signing Nayef Aguerd, while Craig Dawson has been linked with a shock move to Aston Villa.
Angelo Ogbonna and Dawson are also on the wrong side of 30 and have been out with injuries in the opening games, forcing full-back Ben Johnson to play in the centre of the back four. So, adding further depth in the area would not go to waste in what is likely to be another grueling season for West Ham with European football, as well as cup competitions.
As such, Bednarek would be a shrewd addition for a reasonable price. The Polish defender may not sound like the most exciting, silky ball-playing defender. But he ranks extremely highly for blocks, interceptions, clearances and aerial duels won. At 26 years old, he is entering his prime and already has vast Premier League experience with Southampton.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has dismissed the notion that adding another centre-back is an absolute must before the window slams shut. However, given their results in the opening few weeks and after losing summer signing Diego Carlos to a long-term injury, Aston Villa could certainly benefit from one.
While Bednarek is not of the same pedigree as Carlos, especially with the ball at his feet, he would arrive with extensive Premier League experience under his belt, having featured 130 times in the top flight for the Saints. And with less than a week remaining in the transfer window, it will be interesting to see who among West Ham and Aston Villa prevails in the race to sign the 26-year-old.