By Matt Farr
West Ham have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Italy international defender Andrea Ranocchia – according to a reliable journalist.
Kaveh Solhekol, who works for Sky Sports, claimed on Twitter that the Inter Milan defender would prefer a move to West Ham, with Premier League rivals Hull also interested.
Ranocchia rejected a move to the Premier League a year ago when he was subject to a £7million bid from Norwich, but West Ham hope that their attempts will prove more successful.
Sky in Italy: West Ham & Hull City interested in Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia. Player prefers West Ham
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) January 12, 2017
The 28-year-old defender has rarely featured for Inter Milan this season, accumulating just nine appearances in all competitions, and is expected to leave San Siro this month.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is seeking defensive reinforcements this month, in a bid to toughen a defence that has conceded 35 goals from just 20 league games this season.
Their shocking 5-o home defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup third round last Friday was the eighth time in all competitions this season that the Hammers have conceded three or more goals in a match.
Unsurprisingly, they were on the losing side in all eight occasions.
Ranocchia, who has been capped 21 times by the Italian national team, would be playing for a club outside Italy for the first-time in his career if he were to join West Ham, and it could be tough to convince him to move.
TalkSport claim that emerging interest from the likes of Palermo, Sassuolo and Torino could see Ranocchia remain on home soil.
Football Insider verdict
Ranocchia would add a much-needed steel to the Hammers defence, and could form a handy partnership with fellow Italian international Angelo Ogbonna – as well as Winston Reid – at the heart of the defence. They are in dire need of a solution in many areas of the pitch, but their lack of defensive solidarity and continued failure to keep clean sheets is arguably the most pressing issue. With the failed attempts to land Jermain Defoe and Robert Snodgrass, as well as the brand new Dimitri Payet saga, the club is in a bit of a shambles at the moment. Something needs to change at the Olympic Stadium quick, and bringing in Ranocchia could be a good place to start. He might not be convinced about a move to England – can Bilic convince him?
In other West Ham news, the Hammers have received a £22.5 million bid for this player.