West Ham: bid for Croatian star; Southampton want ‘keeper; World Cup winner linked

August 2, 2016  —  By

With the Hammers still waiting on an answer from AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca, the club are beginning to line up alternatives should the result be a negative one. One of those targets could be Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic according to a Croatian source. The forward scored 13 goals in 36 games in Turin last season, but his future is in doubt following the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain.

As a compatriot of Slaven Bilic, the deal may not be as unrealistic as it may first seem. Signed for £17.5 million last season, it seems unlikely that Juventus would demand a huge fee to let him leave either. Mandzukic’s style would be the perfect fit for West Ham, as a strong striker who is good in the air and with hold up play, and his likely high wage demands may be worth paying if bosses can attract him to the Olympic Stadium.

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Another player who could be considered a coup for the east London club would be Mathias Ginter, the 22-year-old Dortmund defender and World Cup winner in 2014, who West Ham are chasing according to Bild. With competition from Arsenal and Spurs in the Premier League and Wolfsburg in Bundesliga, any deal would be complicated, particularly with manager Thomas Tuchel claiming that he won’t be sold.

As a player who usually plays at centre-back, but is also capable of proving cover for the right back and holding midfield positions, it seems that Ginter would be an upgrade on most of the current options in the West Ham squad, including the now departed James Tomkins. Ginter is very highly rated and could one day be one of the first names on the Germany team sheet, so a deal for the defender would be a major coup if it can be pulled off, but that is a big if.

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There could be an unexpected departure from the claret and blue area of London, with Southampton said to be interested in securing the services of Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph, claim the Daily Echo. With Maarten Stekelenburg rejoining Ronald Koeman at Everton after his Saints loan spell finished, that leaves just Paulo Gazzaniga as cover for Fraser Forster.

The Saints have doubts over Gazzaniga, who has not developed as they had hoped, and new rules mean that goalkeepers under-21 cannot be recalled from a loan, so more and more Premier League clubs are looking to have three first-team goalkeepers. One year and 15 appearances after joining on a free transfer, it is yet to be seen if Randolph or West Ham would view the move as a possible option, though it seems unlikely.

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For Randolph, it seems to be a sideways move from second choice behind Adrian to be second choice behind Fraser Forster at clubs of a similar size, and for the Hammers, the new rule change would most likely see them reluctant to allow him to leave unless the player forced the move.