West Ham are keeping tabs on Nantes left-back Quentin Merlin, according to 90min.com.
The website claims that the Hammers have sent scouts to “watch” the France Under 21 international in action at least once this season.
Merlin’s performances are attracting plenty of other suitors as well, with the likes of Manchester City, Celtic and Bayern Munich also monitoring his progress.
The 21-year-old has had a decent start to the campaign with Nantes, having started all 10 league games so far, and helping his team to 7th in the table.
Merlin is an attack-minded fullback by trade, meaning he could also be deployed as a wingback in a back five if needed.
Why are West Ham pursuing Merlin?
Ever since Aaron Cresswell tried to force through a move to Wolves in the summer, the Irons have been looking to replace the 33-year-old.
With Cresswell’s contract set to expire at the end of the season anyway, it’s likely that the London club will try to offload him in January. It will allow them to bring in some sort of fee for the defender, and then bring in a replacement.
Merlin won’t exactly be cheap, considering his contract runs until 2026, but he could provide decent competition for Emerson Palmieri on the left-hand side of defence.
Who will the Hammers be targeting in January?
While a left-back is likely to be on the agenda, the main priority for technical director Tim Steidten is believed to be a striker. The club have already been heavily linked with Feyenoord striker Santiago Gimenez, while in-form Stuttgart forward Serhou Guirassy has been suggested as a possible option too.
Signing another centre-back can’t be ruled out either. Angelo Ogbonna’s contract expires next summer, while Kurt Zouma’s future is also uncertain. The Frenchman has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia and his current deal runs out in 2025.