Hammers face Muriqi competition from Italy


West Ham's January plans to move for Fenerbahce striker Vedat Muriqi could be hijacked by Serie A side Lazio.

Muriqi has been on the Hammers’ radar for much of the season, with scouts previously watching the Kosovan in September’s goalless draw between Fener and bitter rivals Galatasaray.

The 25-year-old only moved to the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in the summer, signing a four-year deal after a season at Caykur Rizespor.

After beginning his career in Albanian football, the striker has spent the last five years in Turkey and is now being tipped for a move to one of Europe’s top leagues.

Manchester United, Tottenham, AC Milan, Inter, Napoli and Atletico Madrid have been linked with his services but West Ham were perceived to have had the best chance of snaring him.

Summer signing Sebastien Haller has scored just once since August as the Hammers have slipped to 16th, while understudy Alban Ajeti is yet to be trusted by Manuel Pellegrini, and the club have also been linked with Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata.

Some more firepower could be required to move them away from a potential relegation dogfight.

Muriqi will be familiar to English fans, having netted a penalty for Kosovo in the Three Lions’ 5-3 win over the Dardanians at St Mary’s in September.

The Prizren-born star is his country’s record scorer with eight and standing six-foot-four-inches appears to have the attributes to thrive in English football.

Turkish outlet Aksam are reporting Lazio could instead be his destination as Simone Inzaghi aims to bolster his frontline, with other sources suggesting Fener have acknowledged the interest.

The Albiceleste are thought to be preparing a January bid but are likely to be required to spend substantially more than the reported 8million euros paid out by the Sari Kanaryalar in July.

Finances could be an issue for La Albiceleste but the Hammers board are expected to search for reinforcements, while also potentially moving other players on in their bid to lift the team up the table.