It’s no secret that West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini is keen to improve a defence that has conceded 54 goals in 36 Premier League games this season.
With that said, it was no surprise to see Football London report earlier this week that Alaves centre half Guillermo Maripan is a priority transfer target for the Hammers this summer.
However, a substantial spanner was thrown in the works on Thursday. The Daily Mail claimed that Italian giants Roma are also interested in the 24-year-old and have, in fact, moved into pole position to sign him.
Claudio Ranieri’s side have held talks with the La Liga outfit in recent weeks and are seemingly poised to offer West Ham serious competition for the Chile international.
Maripan is thought to have a £21million release clause, although Pellegrini’s side are looking to bring him in for closer to £9.5million. However, too much haggling could see the defender end up in Roman hands rather than Iron ones.
That would be disastrous for the east London outfit, because Maripan appears tailor made for them. A rough and rugged defender, he possesses the physicality necessary to flourish in the English top flight. Furthermore, he appears to have the technical ability required in any Pellegrini team.
When a team as big as Roma enter the picture, though, West Ham fans are always going to grow fearful – especially when the player involved is South American, where big European sides like Roma tend to be more widely known than mid-table English sides like the Hammers.
That’s not to say that Maripan couldn’t still end up at the London Stadium, only that it is now going to be much more difficult to snare him. However, West Ham can probably, bizarrely, outmuscle Ranieri’s team financially, so hope still remains.
But this is a tricky situation and is something that the club will have to monitor carefully. Everyone involved with the Hammers will be loath to see Maripan end up in the Italian capital, though, that’s for sure.