West Ham desperately required midfield reinforcements during the opening half of the season, with Jack Wilshere side-lined once again. David Moyes recruited expertly to bring in Tomas Soucek, who now agreed to a permanent move for £19.1m. The Czech Republic international made a crucial contribution in the latter stages of the campaign, scoring three goals, to help steer the Hammers towards Premier League safety.
Moyes can now start planning for next season, and one option who must be tempted to the London Stadium is Matty Longstaff. The 20-year-old central midfielder’s deal with Newcastle United is only days away from expiring, at which point the Hammers would just need to agree personal terms with the prospect to sign him.
Earlier in the season, Longstaff announced himself to the Premier League with the winning goal, a drilled long-range effort, against Manchester United. He has made 15 appearances in all competitions since, scoring three goals, to highlight his eye for a finish from the engine room.
However, things have soured on Tyneside of late, as the 20-year-old has not signed the new contract Newcastle offered him, which manager Steve Bruce suggested was “fantastic”. Udinese in Serie A had appeared the most likely destination for the English central midfielder, as the Italian side have reportedly offered him a 30k a week deal.
In the Premier League, West Ham would reportedly face stiff competition from the other English sides monitoring Longstaff’s situation, which are believed to include Burnley and Southampton. Given the Hammers would not have to spend big to secure the bright English prospects signature, they must beat off the competition and offer him a contract he cannot refuse.
Coupled with his three goals, Longstaff also retained possession incredibly well in the Premier League, and he maintained an 80.4 per cent pass accuracy from his average of 28.8 passes per match. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old notched just 0.3 key passes per 90 minutes, but he does not give the ball away cheaply and has plenty of time to develop the creative side of his game.
A move for the central midfielder would be an astute one for West Ham, Wilshere has missed 22 matches this season and cannot be relied upon regularly. While behind Soucek, Declan Rice and Mark Noble – who’s reaching the end of his career – the Hammers’ options in central defensive midfield are limited. Longstaff is not only available for next to nothing, but he could also develop into a regular starter for the Irons.