The son of West Ham chairman David Sullivan has played a key role in the club’s pursuit of Gedson Fernandes, Football Insider can reveal.

Dave Sullivan junior was among representatives of the Premier League outfit sent to Portugal last year to strike up working relationships with various clubs and agents.

A West Ham source has told Football Insider that those contacts have been central to the club’s pursuit of Benfica midfielder Fernandes this month.

The Hammers are negotiating the signing of the Portugal international, 20, and will hold new talks today as they look to thrash out a deal.

Discussions have taken place over a possible 18-month loan deal which would include an option to buy.

Benfica are open to letting Fernandes go after he lost his regular place in their starting XI this season.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

But West Ham face strong competition for the signature of the central midfielder, including from Premier League rivals Everton and Crystal Palace among others.

The east Londoners have prioritised the capture of a midfielder this month to provide competition and cover for first-choice pair Declan Rice and Mark Noble.

As reported by Football Insider, the club are also targeting Stoke City’s Joe Allen and Genk’s Sander Berge and bids have gone in for the pair.

Sullivan junior played an instrumental role last summer in the club signing young centre-back Goncalo Cardoso, who has been learning his trade this season with the Under-23s.

That pursuit that began with the networking mission of the chairman’s son, who works for his billionaire father’s entire business empire rather than just West Ham.

In other West Ham news, it can be REVEALED that the club have opened talks with Joe Cole.