West Ham join Arsenal in chase to sign speedy LaLiga right-back

Date published: Thursday 25th March 2021 2:49 - Robert McCarthy

Emerson Royal TEAMtalk

West Ham have reportedly joined Arsenal in the race to sign Real Betis right-back Emerson Royal this summer.

Italian outlet CalcioMercato claims that the Hammers are interested in raiding old boss Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis for the Barcelona loanee. The 22-year-old joined Betis on a two-year loan from Barca in the summer of 2019, having been signed by the Catalan side from Brazilian outfit Atletico Mineiro.

He has since starred in 69 games for Betis, having a hand in 15 goals – scoring five and assisting ten.

Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo has previously stated Arsenal’s interest, with the Gunners also keen on Betis midfielder Guido Rodriguez.

However, West Ham are ready to do battle with their London rivals, along with German side Bayer Leverkusen.

At this stage it remains to be seen how much the defender will cost. But it is expected to be a substantial fee, given that Royal is still under contract until 2024.

The Hammers’ link is a little surprising, given how well Vladimir Coufal has played this season.

Arsenal are likely to have more of a need at right-back, with Hector Bellerin set to move on. To that end, the Gunners are likely to be favourites to seal Royal’s signature.

Soucek going nowhere

West Ham assistant manager Stuart Pearce insists the Hammers have no desire to sell Tomas Soucek this summer amid claims he’s being targeted by Manchester United.

Soucek joined the Hammers in an initial loan move in January 2020. That became a permanent £19m deal in the summer, with the fee paid to Slavia Prague looking outstanding business. Soucek’s form alongside Declan Rice in the heart of the midfield has been key to the Hammers’ push for European football.

Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice West Ham

Soucek has nine goals to his name from 29 appearances this term. And he further enhanced his repuation when he netted a hat-trick on Wednesday in the Czech Republic’s 6-2 win against Estonia.

That has predicatably led to speculation that he is being targeted in a big-money summer move to Old Trafford. It’s claimed they see the giant Czech as a perfect addition to their midfield and key to getting the very best from Bruno Fernandes.

We also exclusively revealed in December that Bayern Munich are also considering an approach for the 6ft 4in star.

Hammers star happy in London

Pearce, however, is adamant that Soucek is happy at the London Stadium and the Hammers won’t be entertaining any bids.

“No, he’s happy here and he’s not going anywhere, that’s for sure,” Pearce told talkSPORT.

“He’s been brilliant here, I’ve got to say. Dave [Moyes] brought him into the club in January of last and since then he’s just been brilliant.

“He’s got a wonderful attitude to work, on his days off he comes in to work, he’s just really an absolute pleasure to work with.

“As a man he is top quality. He and Soufal, the two Czech boys, they’ve both been brilliant.

“And Tomas can be a handful, too. England will face Czech Republic in the [Euro 2020] group stages and his ability in both boxes if very, very good.”

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