By Dominic Toner
West Ham are interested in signing Basel midfielder Taulant Xhaka, according to a report.
The Mirror claim that the Hammers have been sounded out about his potential availability in January and Spanish side Valencia are also watching his developments.
It is understood that the 25-year-old would cost around £4million in the transfer window and Slaven Bilic has the backing to complete the deal.
Xhaka is predominately used as a defensive midfielder, but can also be deployed as a defender.
His brother Granit already plays in the Premier League with Arsenal and the siblings lined up against each other in the Champions League this season.
West Ham may be looking to strengthen their squad in January after an average first half of the season and have identified Xhaka as a potential target.
The midfielder has made 24 appearances for Swiss side Basel this season and supplied five assists.
He has racked up 158 appearances for Basel and has experience in European football, but is yet to test himself in the Premier League.
Xhaka has also made 16 appearances for Albania, while his brother Granit plays his national football for Switzerland.
Football Insider verdict:
West Ham could be tempted to secure a cut-price £4million deal in January for Xhaka and that sum could turn out to be a good investment. However, the Hammers could do with a new striker in their squad and should prioritise strengthening other areas. Slave Bilic already has several strong options in midfield with the likes of Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble, Edimilson Fernandes and Cheikhou Jouyate. West Ham should be looking to strengthen as they try to climb up the league table, but a player who has not played in England before is a risk. He appears to have the physical attributes that would suit the Premier League, but the Hammers already have combative midfielders in their squad.
In other West Ham transfer news, David Moyes has given an emphatics answer following the club’s reported interest in Jermain Defoe.