Forget Masuaku: Moyes can bring “very unique” unsung hero to West Ham in bargain deal – opinion
David Moyes can bring a “very unique” defender to West Ham United in Kai Wagner amid rumoured interest in the Philadelphia Union unsung hero.
What’s the word?
The 23-year-old German full-back has been among the top-performers in Major League Soccer this season, where his efforts have sparked Premier League scouts to take note with Philadelphia only valuing Wagner at around £3.5million.
Union’s asking price is seen to sit well with the tight budgets of sides such as West Ham and Fulham, with Moyes again thought to be in the market for a new left-back as he continues to stress the importance of improving the Hammers’ backline.
Fulham and a handful of Bundesliga outfits are also said to be interested in the former Augsburg and Schalke prospect, while Philadelphia have already received offers from unnamed clubs as well.
Wagner has started all 17 of his appearances in 2020, offering two assists in the regular MLS campaign following his return from a leg injury and striking one goal during this summer’s MLS Is Back tournament to open the scoring in a 2-1 win over David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
Wagner: A rare breed
Philadelphia’s MLS Coach of the Year winner Jim Curtin recently confirmed that European interest in Wagner has been long on the radar, and that whoever signs his star player – should he leave Subaru Park – will be acquiring a rare breed.
“Kai had interest last year as well so he’s that talented at a position to be quite frank that there’s not a lot of good ones in the world,” Curtin said, via quotes by the official MLS website. “They’re really hard to find, good left-footed players, especially left-footed defenders are very unique.
“There’s a premium for them. When scouts see good ones, they jump quickly at them so it’s not surprising to me to hear that Kai has drawn a lot of interest in Europe. But again, his focus is here. He also wants to lift an MLS Cup here with the Philadelphia.
“I know there’s interest for sure. But at this time, he’s still a Philadelphia Union player and a great left-back that I love working with each and every day and is a big reason why we gave up the least amount of goals in MLS this season.”
As praise grows for Wagner in Europe, his status across the pond is likewise increasing with the Philadelphia Inquirer lauding the 23-year-old as an unsung hero of Curtin’s plans for his ability to completely shut down opposing forwards.
Curtin similarly praises the German’s defensive mindset, telling Fox Sports: “What [Kai and Ray Gaddis] are great at is when the ball is travelling to the winger on the ground, they are great at closing the distance in getting so tight to them that the only option for the winger is to play backward or protect the ball.
“They do a great job of utilizing the sidelines as an extra defender. Kai, some of the clearances he makes are difficult ones where balls are whipped across in the penalty area and he’s able to clear balls with good contact with his right foot.”
Wagner is also an offensive threat alongside being a defensively-solid full-back, having averaged 0.8 key balls, 0.5 accurate crosses, 4.5 duels won, 1.7 tackles, 1.1 interceptions and 0.2 shots a game in MLS this year, per SofaScore.
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Source: Football – Football Fan Cast