The January transfer window is now officially open, and many teams will be looking to strengthen their squads. For West Ham United, adding squad depth will be important. West Ham are looking to add defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window, following recent injuries to a number of their backline. First choice centre-back pairing of Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna picked up serious injuries earlier in the season, with the Italian ruled out for the remainder of the campaign after surgery on his ACL.

Craig Dawson and Issa Diop have stepped up in the pair’s absence and were superb in midweek despite the defeat to Arsenal, but if either player were to pick up an injury or suspension, David Moyes would be forced to call upon untested youngsters Jamal Baptiste or Aji Alese. The young defenders were handed European debuts against Dinamo Zagreb but are unproven at senior level, and it would be a gamble to throw either of them into a Premier League encounter.

West Ham, who are missing Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma, have been heavily linked with a couple of defenders ahead of the upcoming transfer window. Nathaniel Phillips and James Tarkowski are the players who have been linked with the club for months now. David Moyes has been left with just Issa Diop and Craig Dawson as his only available options at the heart of defense in recent weeks. The above stats indicate that he has impressed with his defensive actions, and he also has a high pass success rate.

There is talent in the youth team, but with important matches to come in the second half of the season, an experienced defender is on West Ham’s shopping list. Here are the two defenders that West Ham can sign in the January transfer window:

Nat Phillips

The Liverpool man has not had much game time this season and is believed to be keen on a move away from Anfield. He has featured twice in the Champions League but not in the Premier League this season. Phillips was a rock at the back when there was an injury crisis in defense for Jurgen Klopp’s team. The 24-year-old had a loan spell at Stuttgart in 2019-20.

West Ham United: 2021-22 Premier League stats

The above visuals show us the defensive metrics for Phillips from the 2020-21 season, where he got a chance at regular football due to the injuries to Klopp’s first-choice centre-backs. He attempted an average of 12.86 defensive actions per 90 and won approximately 80% of these actions. He has a high success rate in winning aerial and loose ball duels. He helps recover possession of the ball and also possesses good distribution skills. Throughout the second half of the season, Phillips displayed a calm and composed performance which earned him interest from other clubs.

West Ham United: 2021-22 Premier League stats

Phillips started against AC Milan at San Siro, playing very well up against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He won most of the duels he attempted, and had a high win rate with the aerial duels he attempted. Phillips is a threat in the opposition’s penalty box as he has attempted a few aerial duels there. These performances have given Nat Phillips a chance to prove his worth to clubs that will be interested in signing him. With the Reds still open to a sale, he could choose to finally embark on a new path in 2022.

He could be available for just £10 million and suits West Ham’s style, being a tall and strong centre-back who is good in the air. Phillips has had the exposure and experience in the Premier League and the Champions League, which has made him a reliable centre-back who can start for a club that needs him. Nat Phillips is a player who helped his team push for a third-place finish last season, considering the number of injuries they had last season. Phillips is absolutely good enough to play a role for a Premier League side, and there is no doubt about that.

James Tarkowski

The Englishman will be familiar to many clubs, having been linked with a move to West Ham many times before and being a part of the Burnley defense which has been so solid for countless seasons. Tarkowski’s deal at Burnley expires this summer, and he looks set to leave for free unless there is a buyer in January. Due to this, he could be available for a low price, and West Ham could find the ideal experienced centre-back they need.

West Ham United: 2021-22 Premier League stats

The above visual shows us the defensive stats for James Tarkowski from the 2021-22 season so far. Tarkowski has similar defensive numbers as Phillips. He has a very high success rate of 90.64% in winning the defensive actions he has attempted. He has the highest win rate in aerial duels as he is a tall centre-back and can win most of the aerial duels he attempts. He has attempted 8.35 interceptions per 90 minutes and has also completed 8.35 recoveries. One of the most important aspects of his game is that he does not commit many fouls as he has averaged 0.35 yellow cards per 90 minutes, which is always a good thing for a defender.

West Ham United: 2021-22 Premier League stats

Burnley is a team that spends most of its season in the bottom half of the table, sits back and defends in most of its games, and tries to counterattack. Tarkowski has been brilliant in these situations and has led his team to some impressive results against big names. He is a defender who can command his defense and organize them according to the opposition. He has attempted several duels across the pitch. He is also a huge threat in the opposition box as Burnley attempts several attacks through set-piece situations.

Aged 29, he is the oldest of the two, but provides a great amount of Premier League experience, perhaps being one of the most underappreciated defenders in recent years.