Saturday 24 June 2017

Shane Long and Scott Hogan emerge as transfer targets for West Ham

Long was wanted by the club before he moved from Reading to West Bromwich Albion in 2011. Photo credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Long was wanted by the club before he moved from Reading to West Bromwich Albion in 2011. Photo credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Jason Burt

Southampton striker Shane Long and Brentford's Scott Hogan have emerged as alternative January targets for West Ham United if they cannot prise first-choice Jermain Defoe away from Sunderland.

West Ham, who drew another blank as they lost 1-0 to Leicester, have made no secret of their intention to improve their forward line - especially as they are going to lose £20m record-signing Andre Ayew to the Africa Cup of Nations and with Diafra Sakho again suffering from a long-term injury.

Andy Carroll, who is being linked with Swansea, is fit but both Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri are cutting short their season-long loan spells after struggling to impress at West Ham.

Despite Sunderland's insistence that Defoe is not for sale at any price, with manager David Moyes having said he would not even consider a bid, there is a sense that the 34-year-old may favour a return to his former club. An offer of £6m has been mooted.

Even so, it is difficult to envisage that Moyes will agree to a sale unless a transfer request is submitted - and even then he may dig his heels in given Sunderland's plight and the difficulty he would face having to find an adequate replacement for his top scorer.

It means that West Ham are actively considering other targets and Long was wanted by the club before he moved from Reading to West Bromwich Albion in 2011.

The 29-year-old then moved to Hull City before signing for Southampton in August 2014 on a four-year deal for a fee of £12m.

The Ireland international had not scored in the Premier League since May until his goal on Saturday against West Brom, after hitting double figures for the first time in his career last season, and is battling for a place in the Southampton XI despite Charlie Austin being out injured.

The return to form and fitness of Jay Rodriguez has further limited Long's chances and he has been used sparingly by manager Claude Puel, who also added to his attacking options with record £16m signing Sofiane Boufal.

Leicester's Ben Chilwell is another played who could be on the move. Arsenal and Liverpool both made substantial bids for Chilwell before he even made his Premier League debut.

And, after finally breaking through into the first team, he is underlining exactly why there has been so much noise around him over the past 18 months.

Chilwell has made only two league starts in the top flight but there are already clear signs of the vast potential that saw Liverpool make offers for him worth up to £7 million in the summer .

An attacking left-back who can actually defend, the 20-year-old impressed again as Leicester secured their first clean sheet in the league in 12 games in beating West Ham thanks to Islam Slimani's "masterpiece" header, as described by Claudio Ranieri.

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