Given the way that West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini chose to end the season, with Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop his first choice centre halves, you would’ve expected Angelo Ogbonna to be at risk if the club decided to pursue a new central defender this summer.
It appeared as if the Hammers were set to do just that. Football London reported in April that Alaves centre back Guillermo Maripan was one of two primary transfer targets for director of football Mario Husillos this summer.
However, Ogbonna will be breathing a sigh of relief after the Daily Star reported recently that the Chile international has been offered to Italian heavyweights AC Milan. In fact, Milan are said to have already held talks with Maripan’s representatives, while West Ham have had a bid for him rejected.
While the Hammers faithful likely won’t consider that good news, Ogbonna most decidedly will. Balbuena and Diop are clearly Pellegrini’s first choice centre back pairing, with the Italian international merely serving as a back up for them. However, the arrival of Maripan would’ve eaten even further into the 31-year-old’s game time.
The curious thing about this, though, is that when you look at the two men’s statistics, there really isn’t much between Ogbonna and Maripan, despite the latter being one of the most lauded defenders in La Liga.
As per WhoScored, Maripan averages more tackles, interceptions and clearances per game than the West Ham man. Ogbonna, though, commits fewer fouls, draws more offsides, makes more blocks and is dribbled past less.
So really it’s a toss up between the two defenders. You wonder, with the hunt for Maripan seemingly having gone cold, whether the Hammers’ decision-makers have realised the same thing.