As per a report from Italian outlet Tuttomercatoweb, West Ham United have emerged as surprise front-runners in the race for in-demand Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri.
Seri, an 18-time capped Ivory Coast international, was one of the standout performers in Ligue 1 during the 2016/17 season, as Les Aiglons secured a shock place in the playoff round of the Champions League.
Controlling proceedings from the middle of midfield for the entirety of his side’s stellar campaign, the diminutive 26-year-old playmaker racked up 7 goals and 9 assists, catching the eye of some of Europe’s biggest sides in the process.
All of Barcelona, Tottenham, AS Roma and PSG were subsequently linked with moves for Seri last summer, with the Blaugrana having even reached a deal with Nice, before pulling the plug on the transfer at the last minute.
Seri has since spoken out on several occasions regarding his immense disappointment at his dream move to the Camp Nou falling through in such agonizing fashion, with Barca having instead opted to bring in Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande last summer, and Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool in January.
Despite having struggled to make quite as impressive an impact this past season as he did last, Seri’s signature is nevertheless once again being fought for by several European giants, with all of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Napoli named as admirers of the Nice star’s talents.
A report courtesy of RTL journalist Christian Ollivier two weeks ago even went as far as to claim that Chelsea were in ‘advanced talks’ with Seri over a move to Stamford Bridge this summer, with Blues’ owner Roman Abramovich having personally chosen the African midfielder as an ideal signing:
— Christian Ollivier (@c_ollivier_rtl) June 5, 2018
‘In pole position’
However, Ollivier’s claim was later proven to have been wide of the mark, with Seri’s agent, Franklin Mala, having revealed last week that his client was in fact inching towards a move to Serie A outfit Napoli.
Speaking in an interview with CalcioNapoli24, Mala divulged:
‘We hope to have positive news from Naples in the next few hours.’
‘There’s been informal contact with Napoli, but still no step forward from [Aurelio] De Laurentiis’ club. We’re ready to meet Napoli.’
‘Napoli are in pole position. Seri prefers Naples to anywhere else. Napoli need to speed up in every way to close the deal.’
But, despite the Partenopei having been expected to seal a deal for Seri by now, an announcement has not yet been forthcoming, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men having instead secured the signing of highly-rated Real Betis midfielder Fabian Ruiz yesterday, possibly putting a surprise end to their interest in Seri.
And, as per the aforementioned report from Tuttomercatoweb this morning, a new suitor, in the form of West Ham United, are now the leading candidates to secure a deal for the Nice star.
The Hammers, who have handed a considerable transfer war-chest to new manager Manuel Pellegrini, are said to have tabled a concrete offer for Seri, with the capital outfit said to be the new front-runners in the race for the 26-year-old as a result.
It remains to be seen whether Seri would be interested in a move to the London Stadium amid links with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Napoli, though, with no end to the saga surrounding the gifted midfielder’s future seemingly in sight.