Are West Ham clearing the decks for a new centre-half?

West Ham United's Portuguese defender Jose Fonte (L) vies with Crystal Palace's Ivorian striker Wilfried Zaha during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and...

Jose Fonte joined West Ham United in January 2017 but is reportedly closing in on a move to China.

Joe Hart of West Ham United checks that Jose Fonte of West Ham United is okay after going down during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park...

West Ham United centre-back Jose Fonte, 34, is reportedly closing in on a move to the Chinese Super League, with Dalian Yifang appearing to be the front runners. 

Sky Sports believe the player is keen on the move having fallen somewhat out of favour in East London with only eight appearances so far this term, although injury has also played its part

Fonte's defensive colleague James Collins, also 34, may also be on his way out of the club with the Hammers yet to offer him a new contract. 

It was only a couple of months ago that Collins quit Wales to focus on West Ham, but the 34-year-old has seemingly been unable to convince the club that he is worthy of a new deal.

The 'Ginger Pele' has only played 12 games so far this campaign, with Slaven Bilic and latterly David Moyes frequently opting for Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Declan Rice in the heart of defence. 

Ryan Fraser of AFC Bournemouth is fouled by James Collins of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and AFC Bournemouth at London Stadium on January 20,...

If both Fonte and Collins leave the club, which is looking increasingly likely, Moyes must be planning a move for centre-back reinforcements behind the scenes.

West Ham were well documented admirers of Swansea City's Alfie Mawson (Sky Sports), who Carlos Carvalhal recently dubbed one of the best defenders in the Premier League. However, after a month of interest in January, a move never materialised. 

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see who emerges as West Ham's new defensive target, should Fonte secure a switch to China and Collins follow him out the door at the end of his contract, as the Hammers look to transform their back line.

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