West Ham handed major boost in pursuit of "special" warrior who'll have Moyes in awe – opinion
West Ham United have been handed a major boost in the east London side’s pursuit of Kai Wagner after the defender stated he’s ready to leave Philadelphia Union.
What’s the word?
While speaking with German magazine Kicker, Wagner has noted how he feels ready for a move to one of Europe’s top-three leagues after reflecting on the emerging interest in his services.
The 23-year-old full-back has materialised into a highly sought-after option for the upcoming winter transfer market, with West Ham, Fulham and a clutch of Bundesliga outfits understood to be keen on the star of Major League Soccer.
Union are only said to value Wagner at close to £3.5million, which fits nicely with the budget the Hammers are expected to operate with in January as boss David Moyes strives to improve a key weakness in his squad.
Wagner has started all 18 of his appearances in 2020 while providing two goals and an assist, and believes now could be the time to test his luck back in Europe after leaving Bundesliga 2 side Wurzburger Kickers in 2019.
“I’ll be 24 in February, so I think I’ll have to change soon. I have left an impression here and am ready for one of the top-three leagues in Europe. Bundesliga, Premier League or Spain, if you like. I want to be a regular there and maybe even make the leap to the national team.
“There aren’t that many good left-backs in the world, so many clubs have needs there. I want to move back to Europe in January or in July at the latest. But first, and this is particularly important, I want to win the MLS Cup with Philadelphia. After that there is still enough time to deal with the future.”
A “special” warrior for the Irons
Union’s 2020 MLS Cup campaign came to an end on Tuesday night after a 2-0 loss at home to New England Revolution, in which German national Wagner contested nine ground duels, four aerial duels, made four clearances, one tackle, delivered three crosses and took 78 touches, per SofaScore.
Wagner’s warrior nature ensured Union boss Jim Curtin could rely on the left-back to be a combative member of his plans and justify Philadelphia Sporting Director Ernst Tanner’s decision to sign the defender last year.
“I’ve known Kai since he was a youth, and I was checking so many left full-backs and it was always the question of what you could get and what you want to sign. It made him in a way so special, and I’m always looking out for players that can do that next stage in their development. And that’s the reason I went for Kai,” Tanner told The Athletic.
Aurelien Collin, a veteran defender with years of MLS experience before becoming a mentor, is also full of praise for Wagner, and lauded the former Schalke prospect’s mental strength.
“He has the mentality,” Collin said. “He’s young. He’s a fighter. He’s not scared of the contact, which is something very important in this league, and I think that’s why, right now, he’s adapted very well.”
Curtin has often been able to rely on Wagner to show a willingness to contest for the ball, with the 23-year-old averaging 4.4 duels won a game in MLS this year for a 52% success rate, spread over 2.6 ground battles and 1.8 aerial contests, per SofaScore.
Moyes would no doubt be left in awe if the defender could build on those efforts at the London Stadium, where Arthur Masuaku has nailed down the role this term with 6.1 duels won per Premier League appearance but has no competition with Aaron Cresswell playing centrally.
AND in other news, a “commanding figure” could be set to leave West Ham in the January window.
The post Kai Wagner: West Ham target ready to leave Philadelphia Union in January transfer first appeared on FootballFanCast.com.
Source: Football – Football Fan Cast