West Ham are set to make their sixth summer signing as Croatian defender Ivan Strinic is reported to have agreed personal terms ahead of a £4million move from Dinipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Strinic, entering the final year of his contract with his Russian club, is set to undergo a medical at Upton Park and be unveiled within the next 48 hours.
The 27-year-old will join new Hammers recruits Mauro Zarate, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell, Diego Poyet and Enner Valencia (pending a successful work permit hearing), and is set to compete with Cresswell for the left-back spot in the starting line-up.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is keen to add numbers to his small squad after seeing his team left short in all areas of the pitch last season. The arrival of Strinic would also provide healthy competition for a position that the east London outfit have struggled to fill in the past.
Strinic has been capped 32 times by his national side and has played in Europe with Dinipro, which will add some top level experience to the side and provide Cresswell will stiff competition and perhaps some tutelage at mastering the position.
He was included in Croatia’s Euro 2012 squad but the defender missed out on a place at the Brazil 2014 World Cup due to a hamstring injury.
Depth has been the buzzword around West Ham during the summer so far. A host of squad players such as Jack Collison, Joe Cole, George McCartney and Alou Diarra, as well as the trio of Serie A loanees – Pablo Armero, Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borriello - have all left the club so the Hammers are in desperate need of adding depth across the board.
Should the deal for Strinic fall through, though, other targets have been lined up for a similar fee.
The Daily Star are reporting that Malaga left-back Vitorino Antunes is also on the Hammers’ radar, with a loan move for the Portuguese defender being considered with a view to a £4million permanent transfer next summer.
Having already made a big splash on marquee signings Valencia and Kouyate, the most probable way they will fill out the rest of the squad is through low-cost deals or loan signings.
Allardyce is still on the hunt for a winger, central midfielder, left-back and left-sided centre back this summer and it’s highly possible that a number of these positions will be filled by loan deals.
If West Ham manage to secure the move for Strinic they will be content that their left-back department is strong and hopefully they will no longer need to rely on centre-backs to play out of position when they are hit with an injury crisis.
Strinic is a solid, intelligent defender and he can also help provide an attacking thrust down the wing, if Allardyce gives him the freedom, but his confidence and composure on the ball is one of his best traits.
He can pick out a pass under pressure, but the major question he will face if he does sign is if he can deal with the intensity and physicality of the Premier League which can often prove to be a big stumbling block for foreign recruits.
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