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West Ham enter the race for 23-year-old La Liga star – A good move for the Hammers?

Unai Nunez has been impressive for Athletic Bilbao in the limited opportunities he has received (Getty Images)
Unai Nunez has been impressive for Athletic Bilbao in the limited opportunities he has received (Getty Images)

Why West Ham signing Unai Nunez will be a good move

According to a report from The Sun, West Ham United have entered the race to sign Athletic Bilbao defender Unai Nunez in the summer transfer window.

The 23-year-old Nunez is a product of the Athletic Bilbao academy. The centre-back had a loan spell away at CD Basconia in 2015/16. He got his first big break in the senior team at Athletic in 2017, from which point he has grown into a key player for the side.

Till date, Nunez has featured 74 times across all competitions for the Basque outfit, scoring one goal in the process. Having featured 13 times for the Spanish U21 side, the defender made his debut for the Spain senior national team in September last year.

Unai Nunez (L) (Getty Images)
Unai Nunez (L) in action against Real Madrid (Getty Images)

West Ham United, meanwhile, have had a disappointing campaign and are dawdling close to the relegation zone. Currently 16th in the table, they are just four points above the drop zone and it goes without saying that the Hammers will need to add more quality to the squad if they are to fare better next term.

West Ham need to tighten up things at the back

West Ham’s defence has been all over the place this season. The East London outfit have conceded 59 goals in 34 Premier League matches so far. Only the bottom two teams – Aston Villa and Norwich City have conceded more.

At the moment, West Ham five centre-backs on their books. One of them, Winston Reid, wasn’t involved this season and has just returned from a loan spell with Sporting Kansas City. Among the remaining four – Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna and Goncalo Cardoso, only Diop has shown some consistency this term.

West Ham boss David Moyes looks on. (Getty Images)
West Ham boss David Moyes looks on. (Getty Images)

Balbuena has featured in just two of the Hammers’ last 12 league matches, while Cardoso has been with the reserve team and is yet to make his first-team debut since joining last summer. Furthermore, Ogbonna is 32 and will need to be phased out of the starting XI slowly. So, strengthening the backline this summer becomes of paramount importance for West Ham.

Nunez, in that regard, would be a worthy acquisition. The 23-year-old has been a solid presence at the back for Athletic, who have conceded just 31 goals in 35 La Liga matches this term. In 23 matches that he has featured in, across all competitions, Nunez has helped Los Leones secure eight clean sheets.

At 23, the Spaniard is still quite young and should improve under the guidance of a defensively astute coach like David Moyes.

Unai Nunez (L) in action against Barcelona (Getty Images)
Unai Nunez (L) in action against Barcelona (Getty Images)

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Verdict

West Ham’s defence has been quite poor in the 2019/20 campaign. With Balbuena not featuring regularly and Ogbonna ageing, adding some fresh blood to the backline would do the Hammers a world of good.

Nunez, to that end, would be a good signing for the club. The 23-year-old has some experience at the highest level in La Liga and has done well whenever given a chance. He would add some much-needed depth and quality to the Hammers’ centre-back department.

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