West Ham United

West Ham United

Premier League • England

West Ham factor to play ‘key role’ in ousting Newcastle for €20m creative spark

James Holland
West Ham target Antonin Barak

West Ham have the upper hand on Newcastle in the race to sign Antonin Barak from Hellas Verona, according to a report.

The attacking midfielder spent time at three clubs in his native Czech Republic before moving to Udinese in 2017. He went on to make 54 appearances for the Italian side, scoring eight goals, before joining Verona in July.

Barak seems to be enjoying life at the Marcantonio Bentegodi stadium. He boasts a record of five goals and three assists in 15 Serie A matches this term. That includes goals against Jose Mourinho’s Roma and AC Milan, with the latter previously interested in signing him.

The 27-year-old is forming a solid relationship with Verona striker Giovanni Simeone, who is on loan from Cagliari.

Barak’s impressive campaign means West Ham and Newcastle are hoping to strike a deal.

Sport Witness, citing reports coming out of Italy, provide an update on the star’s future. They write that David Moyes’ side are edging ahead of Newcastle in the transfer hunt.

This is down to the two teams’ contrasting form. West Ham sit fourth in the Premier League table after 15 outings. They have also gone unbeaten in their first five Europa League group matches, securing them a place in the round of 16.

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Newcastle, meanwhile, have won just once in the league this term. They face a tough run of fixtures against Leicester, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd, which means they could fall further away from safety.

This factor is playing a ‘key role’ in Barak’s decision-making. He does not want to be involved in a relegation scrap at his next club, while West Ham could offer him the chance of European football.

The playmaker will be sold for around €20m (£17.1m). Verona would also like to wait until the end of the season before finalising a deal.

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Zouma influences West Ham transfer strategy

Meanwhile, 90Min report that an injury to Kurt Zouma will see West Ham move for Man City’s Nathan Ake.

Zouma, 27, picked up a hamstring tendon injury during his return to Chelsea at the weekend. He is already working to get back to full fitness, although a timescale for his return has not been given.

The defender’s absence means Ake is West Ham’s ‘primary target’ heading into January. They want the Dutchman to line up alongside either Craig Dawson or Issa Diop at centre-half.

Ake is having trouble replacing either Ruben Dias or Aymeric Laporte in Pep Guardiola’s first team. He is also behind John Stones in the pecking order at the Etihad.

Ake cost City £40m last year and West Ham are unlikely to match that fee. That makes a six-month loan the most probable option.

READ MORE: Tottenham star’s ‘priority’ becomes clear as three Prem clubs eye January move