West Ham look set to reignite their interest in Hellas Verona attacking midfielder Antonin Barak despite his price tag doubling since the summer.
The Hammers are enjoying another excellent campaign and sit fourth in the Premier League table. And that is despite taking just one point from their past three games. That came against Brighton on Wednesday and they next face a huge test against table-topping Chelsea on Saturday.
Scoring goals has not been an issue this term for the East End outfit. They have bagged 25 in the league.
Michail Antonio leads the way with six while Pablo Fornals has notched four. But there is a sense that the London Stadium outfit are still a bit light up front.
They have been linked with many strikers since the departure of Sebastien Haller nearly 12 months ago. But David Moyes has yet to recruit an out-and-out frontman to help Antonio.
He brought in midfielder Nikola Vlasic in the summer and another schemer may be on the club’s radar. Alex Kral was a summer loan signing, bringing the number of Czech Republic players at the club to three.
Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal are already on board. And that might increase by one if West Ham do firm up their interest in Barak.
Capped 29 times by his nation, the 27-year-old has been in excellent form for his Serie A club. I Gialloblu sit 10th in the Italian top-flight table after 15 games.
Rice a wanted man in January
Rice has made himself very valuable for West Ham, and will be a big target for many teams in January.
Barak has played his part, with five goals and three assists in 15 league games, having started every match to date.
Local newspaper L’Arena (via Sport Witness) suggest the Hammers ‘really like’ the player and ‘could decide to already invest €20m in January’.
Barak price hike after strong season
Moyes has been keen on Barak for some time. It looked as though the capital outfit might launch a £10m (€11.7m) bid for the playmaker last summer.
He shone alongside Soucek at Euro 2020 when the Czech Republic beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the last-16. And the former Udinese star has made six starts among seven appearances for Jaroslav Silhavy’s side in World Cup qualifying.
But he will not be allowed to leave for that knockdown price any more, with Verona looking for at least €20m. Whether West Ham are prepared to pay that only time will tell.
And their need for a striker is greater than that for a midfielder. Other clubs thought to be interested include Newcastle United.
But the Magpies’ parlous league position means a move to Tyneside is not attractive at present.