COMMENT By Will Butcher
Slaven Bilic would solve West Ham’s right-back woes with the signing of Barnsley’s highly-rated defender James Bree.
The Hammers have struggled to find a permanent right-back to slot in on the right side of defence, with Sam Byram, Havard Nordtveit and Michail Antonio all being tried.
With a three-man defence also looking shaky, here are three reasons why Bree would be the perfect solution to Bilic’s problem area.
Overseas signings struggle
The Hammers recruitment system has taken a battering in recent months. Bringing in a whole host of foreign talent from outside of the United Kingdom, optimism was at an all-time high in the summer as Bilic reshaped his squad. Fast forward till now, and the majority of that overseas talent has flopped in east London. The likes of Gokhan Tore, Nordtveit, Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri are just a handful of examples to have struggled with the rigours of English football. Bringing in Englishman Bree would provide the Hammers with homegrown talent at right-back, and he would find no problem in adapting to the physicality of the Premier League.
Contract ends in six months
The 19-year-old’s current deal at Oakwell is set to expire in the summer, which could see the Hammers strike a bargain deal for the highly-rated defender. Rated at £4million, the Hammers would be signing a player that will only increase in value as Barnsley look to avoid losing their academy product on a free transfer in six months’ time. If Bilic risks waiting until the summer to sign Bree, then the east London side would only have to pay compensation to sign the number two.
Alvaro Arbeloa’s difficult start
The Spaniard has endured a tough start to life in east London and is unlikely to sign a new deal with the Hammers, with his current contract ending in the summer. Signed from Real Madrid, the former Liverpool defender has been dogged by injury, making just four appearances in all competitions. With Arbeloa set to leave in the near future, bringing in Bree would see Bilic have two right-backs in his squad along with Byram. The duo would get the best out of each other in the battle to become Bilic’s first-choice defender.
In other West Ham transfer news, the Hammers and Everton are set to go head to head to sign this teenage winger.