The Serbian looks set to join David Moyes’ ranks at the London Stadium with Fiorentina ready to cash in before his contract expires in 2022
West Ham are closing in on the signing of Nikola Milenkovic after being priced out of a deal for Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma, Goal can confirm.
Milenkovic has just entered the final year of his contract at Fiorentina, who are thought to be ready to cash in on the centre-half after receiving an offer from West Ham.
The Hammers had also been in talks with Chelsea over a possible transfer for Zouma, but have turned their attention to Milenkovic due to the fact he is currently available for a cut-price fee.
What’s the situation?
Goal has learned that the Blues are demanding £25 million ($35m) for Zouma, who was open to linking up with West Ham, but they cannot afford to match that valuation or his current wage packet at Stamford Bridge.
The Hammers have been in contact with Marseille over Duje Caleta-Car too, but Milenkovic now appears the most likely man to join David Moyes’ ranks at the London Stadium.
West Ham are hoping to finalise a £14m ($19m) deal for the Serbian centre-back, with just a few small details left to work out with Fiorentina before he can make his way to England.
What will Milenkovic bring to West Ham?
Milenkovic has emerged as one of the top defenders in Italy during his time at Fiorentina, having initially moved to the Artemio Franchi Stadium from Partizan Belgrade in 2017.
The 24-year-old has appeared in 133 games in all competitions for La Viola to date, scoring 11 goals, and his presence could help West Ham fight for European qualification again in 2021-22.
Moyes already has the likes of Angelo Ogbonna, Craig Dawson and Issa Diop to call upon in the heart of the defence, but Milenkovic has the quality and experience to slot straight into his starting XI if the Hammers can push the transfer over the line.
Chelsea still working on sales
West Ham’s decision to cool their interest in Zouma comes as an untimely blow for Chelsea as Thomas Tuchel bids to trim his squad down ahead of a Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Blues are still eager to get Zouma off their books, with Tiemoue Bakayoko, Davide Zappacosta and Danny Drinkwater also expected to be sold after returning to Stamford Bridge following loan spells in 2020-21.
Tuchel has 41 players to choose from at the moment, and Goal has learned that Tammy Abraham, Emerson and Marcos Alonso could also be offloaded if suitable offers come in.
Abraham is the closest to the exit door at the moment, with Arsenal, Roma and Atalanta all thought to be in the hunt for the England international’s signature.