It is vital for their chances of Premier League survival that West Ham United recruit defensive reinforcements, according to Kevin Phillips.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former European golden shoe winner delivered his verdict as the Hammers ended their interest in Burnley defender James Tarkowski.
Football Insider revealed earlier this week that West Ham had been priced out of a move for the 28-year-old as Burnley slapped a £35million price tag on the defender.
Fofana, 19, has huge resale value after enjoying a breakthrough campaign with St Etienne last year where he played 24 games including the French Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain.
And Phillips believes the Hammers will have been tracking the defender for a while.
He told Football Insider: “Any player that gets linked to West Ham and if there’s any substance to it then the club will have done their homework. They wouldn’t link themselves to somebody who couldn’t perform.
“With Tarkowski, the figures were probably just a bit too much that they willing to play.
“Again it’s an area, like at Tottenham, that they need to strengthen.
“They’ve certainly scored a lot of goals recently in the Carabao Cup.
“But to survive in the Premier League they need to sure that defence up. If he’s being linked then they must fit their profile.”
Fofana was left out of St Etienne’s Ligue 1 game last weekend against Nantes after starting their first three games.
Claude Puel’s conceded their first goals and dropped their first points of the season in the 2-2 draw with Nantes.