Burnley defender Maxime Estève has been linked with a move to West Ham United in recent days as a replacement for Nayef Aguerd, who has been heavily linked with a move away.

Estève fits the profile of a replacement for Aguerd due to his ability to play on the left side, due to him being left footed. With the clubs only other left-footed centre-back in Angelo Ogbonna also set to depart the London Stadium, the need for someone that is comfortable in that role is massive.

This type of player has become very in-demand in recent years with managers looking for their defenders to be as confident on the ball as possible. This is something new manager Julen Lopetegui is looking for from his West Ham side.

Nayef Aguerd signed back in the summer of 2022 for this reason and is a player the new manager would like to keep. However, the Moroccan looks set to depart the club with interest from Atletico Madrid and his former club Rennes.

Aguerd’s time at the club has been very rocky to say the least. He looked impressive in pre-season before suffering a long-term ankle injury in a match against Rangers at Ibrox. After returning after 108 days, missing 20 matches Aguerd impressed fans during the rest of the season and in the run-in to Conference League victory.

However, in 23/24 the Moroccan was in and out of the team due to indifferent performances. He made 21 Premier League appearances, keeping just two clean sheets and received a red card. There have also been reports of him seeking a way out of the club for months.

As well as Estève, there has also been links to Wolves defender Max Kilman, another left footed centre back who Lopetegui worked very well with at Wolves. However, his price tag looks set to be around £30 million. This makes Maxims Estève a more attractive option for technical director Tim Steidten, meaning the club could spend money in other positions.

The Frenchman spent the second half of last season on loan at Turf Moor from Ligue 1 club Montpellier. The Clarets took up their €12 million option to buy the defender earlier this week, however they look set to sell him on again for a profit this summer.

According to reports from French source L’Equipe, the Hammers have opened talks with Burnley to secure the defenders services. Rumours suggest Everton are also interested in Estève, however it would be as a replacement for Jarrad Branthwaite who has been linked with big money moves to Chelsea and Manchester United.

However, due to their financial constraints they are unlikely to make a move before he is sold. This puts Julen Lopetegui’s side as favourites to secure the Frenchman’s signature. Despite the Clarets relegation, Estève really impressed the fans with his consistent performances.

He started the final fifteen games of the season for Vincent Kompany’s side. He has a very aggressive style of defending with ball interception and concentration being very strong points in his game. He averages 1.69 interceptions a game, which which puts him in the top 8% of centre backs in Europe’s top 5 leagues in the past year.

This is a huge jump compared Aguerd’s numbers, he averages just 0.71 interceptions which places him in the bottom 14%. However, Estève’s time at Burnley showed that he may not be the best aerially with him placing in the bottom 34% in aerial battles won, significantly less than Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd.

This may not be a huge problem however, due to the change to what looks to be a more possession based approach under Julen Lopetegui. His lack of aerial presence may be covered for by his aggression and passing ability.

Very similar to how he used Jules Kounde at Sevilla, the now Barcelona defender made up for his lack of aerial presence with his understanding of the game and low centre of gravity. However, Estève is a lot taller than Jules Kounde, standing at 6’4. So he has every chance of improving his aerially ability as his career goes on.

If signed by the Hammers, Maxime Estève will be competing for the two centre back places with Kurt Zouma, Konstantinos Mavropanos and imminent arrival Fabricio Bruno from Flamengo.

Estève would most likely pair Mavropanos at the back as Julen Lopetegui tried to sign the Greek International from Arsenal during his time at Sevilla. Current club captain Kurt Zouma could see his appearances limited under Lopetegui due to his lack of ability on the ball.

By Daniel Luker