By Matt Farr
West Ham have joined the race to land Southampton right-back Cuco Martina – according to a report.
The 27-year-old has just six months left to run on his current deal at St. Mary’s and could be sold this month.
ESPN sources claim that the Hammers have joined Premier League rivals Hull in the race for his signature, having struggled defensively in the first-half of the season.
West Ham have the sixth-worst defensive record in the league, having conceded 35 goals from their 20 league games to date.
They shipped five goals at home to Manchester City in the FA Cup on Friday, which was the eighth time in all competitions that they have conceded three or more goals in a game.
Slaven Bilic has lost several of his key defensive players to injury over the course of the season – including Reece Oxford and Sam Byram – but his remaining options have largely failed to perform, and seeks one or two new recruits in the transfer window.
Midfield players Michail Antonio, Pedro Obiang and Havard Nordtveit have all featured at right-back in recent weeks in what is clearly a problem position for Bilic and West Ham.
Cuco Martina has had a mixed season at Southampton, and has yet to really earn a prolonged run of games in the first-team, fighting for a place in Claude Puel’s side with Cedric Soares.
He has made 16 appearances in all competitions this term, but he has featured in the matchday squad on just three occasions in their last 10 league games.
He is the preferred choice in the cup competitions, starting five of Southampton’s Europa League group-stage games, while he has also appeared twice in the EFL Cup.
The Curacao international came close to leaving the Saints in the summer, but his move to Everton fell through following the injury to Jeremy Pied.
Football Insider verdict
Following their attempts to sell him last summer, and the short time left on his current deal, Southampton may be very willing to negotiate a potential deal with West Ham. Martina is a promising option for the Hammers, and could hopefully put an end to their defensive woes. The addition of an outright right-back would allow the likes of Antonio to focus fully on their attacking game – which has been his strength this season – rather than focusing on the defensive-third as he has done on occasion. Martina’s versatility would also fit Bilic’s criteria, as he could play on the left-hand side and in midfield. He would be available on the cheap, which also bodes well for West Ham. All-round a good potential addition for West Ham.
In other West Ham transfer news, this Hammers flop is set to leave the club this month.