According to Sky Sports, West Ham are in with an opportunity to sign Red Bull New York defender Aaron Long. The defender reportedly has a £4 million release clause in his current contract with the club that expires in 2021. Fiorentina and Olympique Lyonnais also court the USMNT star. But, it is believed that he prefers a move to the Premier League, giving West Ham the upper hand in this pursuit.
Long’s spell at NY Red Bulls
Long moved to NY Red Bull reserve side back in March 2016. But he was promoted to the first-team later that year on loan. And after a slow start to his career in NY, he became a prominent part of the club’s backline from the 2017 campaign. The 26-year-old was involved in 31 matches during that corresponding season.
However, it was Long’s performances last season that truly made him one of the United States’s best defenders. He was even named MLS 2018 defender of the year while also earning his maiden call-up to the national team during the backend of last year.
The ex-Sounders FC defender has since won 11 caps for USMNT. He was notably an ever-present figure in the recently concluded Gold Cup, even though the United States endured a disappointing defeat to rivals Mexico in the final.
What can he bring to West Ham?
Long is advertised as a no-nonsense defender, who has already averaged almost six clearances per game in the ongoing 2019 season. Aerial dominance is also one of his biggest assets, with the defender winning an impressive 5.3 headed duels per game – highest in the league among players who have at least played ten matches.
That being said, the USMNT star is not the best of passers, attaining a pass completion rate of only 64%. Besides, he often looks tentative with the ball at his feet. But, what he lacks in technicality, Long more than makes up for it with his doggedness at the back.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored
Should West Ham sign Long this summer?
Long’s physicality, coupled with his athleticism, could potentially make him a tailor-made fit for the fast-paced nature of the Premier League. He can provide excellent backup for the defensive duo of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop while his dogged nature at the back would tune in well with Manuel Pellegrini’s tactical system.
Most importantly, however, the 26-year-old is available for just £4 million and is unlikely to demand higher wages – making him a potential bargain for West Ham.