Exclusive: West Ham plot late raid to sign 61-cap England int'l after pre-season development

EXCLUSIVE By Wayne Veysey

West Ham have added Gary Cahill to their shortlist of targets as they look to sign a new centre-back before the window shuts next week, Football Insider can reveal.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini has made up his mind to bring in a central defender after watching his players in action in pre-season over the last month.

A West Ham source has told Football Insider that the club have turned their attention to 61-cap England international Cahill as they look to provide competition to senior men Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena.

The 33-year-old is available after being released by Chelsea at the end of June following a final campaign for the club in which he made just eight appearances.

The source explained that Cahill is not West Ham’s first choice to become their new centre-back but will come in contention next week if they fail to land their other targets.

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Pellegrini has been dissatisfied with his options in central defence and that is likely to have been exacerbated last night by a rollercoaster 5-3 win over Hertha Berlin in Germany.

Cahill won his eighth major trophy at the Blues when he lifted the Europa League in May but he was stuck on the fringes and is likely to want to end his playing career as a key performer.

Cahill brought down the curtain on his time at Chelsea after accumulating 290 appearances for the club in seven-and-a-half years.

The former Villa, Burnley and Sheffield United defender was barely involved in the second half of last season and spoke of his frustration at being a bit-part figure under Maurizio Sarri.

In other West Ham news, it can be REVEALED that the club are sweating over the fitness of four senior stars ahead of their Premier League opener.