By Dominic Toner
West Ham are eyeing Chelsea youngsters Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke.
The Telegraph claim that the club’s managers Slaven Bilic and Antonio Conte “share a mutual respect”, which has seen the Hammers enquire about several of the Blues players.
It is reported that West Ham have been interested in senior duo Asmir Begovic and Cesc Fabregas, but could be better served chasing Chelsea’s younger pairing.
The Telegraph states that “Chelsea would certainly not contemplate selling Loftus-Cheek, but a January loan deal could be considered if he remains stuck on the sidelines”.
The report also details that striker Solanke will need to solve an ongoing contract dispute before being allowed to leave Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea only loaning out players on long-term deals, but the youngster’s current deal expiring at the end of the season.
Loftus-Cheek, 20, is the more experienced of the two youngsters and has made 24 senior appearances for the Blues.
The central midfielder is currently competing for a spot in a highly competitive squad and has managed just three appearances under Conte this season.
He has been an integral part of England’s Under-21s side and scored five goals in his 15 matches for them, including participating in the European Under-21s Championship in 2015.
Solanke is the lesser known of the duo and the 19-year-old has made just one senior appearance for the club.
The forward has spent a season away from Stamford Bridge on loan unlike Loftus-Cheek, playing 26 games in the 2015/16 season for Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.
West Ham are currently struggling in 17th in the Premier League table, just a point above the relegation places, and Bilic could be tempted to add to his squad in the January transfer window.
Football Insider verdict:
West Ham should look to use their connection with Chelsea and make Ruben Loftus-Cheek their top target, with the youngster offering a different dimension to the likes of Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang and Edimilson Fernandes. The central midfielder has shown his eye for goal for club and country, with Antonie Conte even deploying him as a forward in pre-season. The Hammers are crying out for an extra spark in the middle of the park to supplement attackers Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini. Dominic Solanke would be the bigger risk of the two and has just one senior appearance for Chelsea. Although West Ham are crying out for a new forward, with Simone Zaza proving a flop, they would be best chasing a proven goal scorer.
In other West Ham news, why Tottenham should fear the club’s midfielder ahead of the Premier League clash.