Why West Ham should not be targeting Watford defender Gabriele Angella

West Ham are reportedly keen on signing Watford central defender Gabriele Angella.

The Hammers look resigned to losing first-choice centre-back Winston Reid over the summer, and are said to be preparing to make an offer for Watford star Gabriele Angella to fill the void.

A 25-year-old former Italian youth international, Angella is something of a fan favourite at Vicarage Road, and he seemingly loves the club as much as the crowds love him. It is widely expected that he will leave over the summer should the Hornets fail to achieve promotion to the Premier League, with a return to sister-club Udinese touted, but it looks as if West Ham are trying to follow up a long-standing interest by stealing him away from the Pozzo family.

However, they are targeting the wrong man if they are looking for a long-term replacement for Winston Reid.

A classy footballer, Angella is praised for his skill on the ball and technical ability, although he is generally fairly weak when pressured in defensive situations. Not the best tackler, he is also quite bad at reading the game from a defensive standpoint, and is often caught out of position. The Hornets have proven to be a side incredibly bad at defending set pieces, and Angella - who is quite slimly built - is not the best presence inside his own box.

Despite all his defensive faults, there is a classy player on show when in control of the ball. Rather than the classic style of defensive sweeper associated with the ‘Grande Inter’ of Helenio Herrera, Angella shows a more offensive style, and frequently is found running into the opposition’s half of the pitch, both creating and scoring goals. He needs time on the ball to truly excel, and is often dispossessed when harried by opponents, but his long-range passing is second to none as a defender, and there have been calls for him to move into the midfield to display his full talents.

Sam Allardyce has been moving towards a more expressive style of football with West Ham this season, and there is reason to argue that signing a ball-playing centre-back is a further step on this path to style. However, the creative success of the Hammers has come with the solidity of their defensive line, who regularly stay back and act as nothing more than stoppers so that the midfielders can play without fear of being caught as the last line of defence. Angella offers no kind of security, and, whilst a great player, he is not the kind of defender that Allardyce should be looking to build his team around.

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