Max Kilman is back on West Ham’s transfer radar this summer after Tim Steidten and Julen Lopetegui plan a huge shake-up in the centre of defence.

Angelo Ogbonna has already departed after the expiration of his contract, Nayef Aguerd and club captain Kurt Zouma are also set to follow the Italian out the door. Both players have been told they can leave this summer if a suitable offer was to be made.

Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Max Kilman could be the marquee centre-back signing to replace Aguerd on the left-hand side, to partner Konstantinos Mavropanos at the heart of the Hammers’ defence. ExWHUEmployee has reiterated our interest in the Wolves man.

Kilman is a left-footed, 6’4 defender who has previously been described as a ‘Gentle Giant. Despite his frame, the defenders’ strong points are his dribbling and long passes rather than his brute strength.

A huge £45m price tag has been placed on the 27-year-old’s head, West Ham would need to get that price down slightly if they were to sign the defender. Unless a huge transfer fee from Saudi Arabia was to come for either Aguerd or Zouma.

Julen Lopetegui was a huge fan of the centre-back during his time at Wolves, he appeared in all but one of their 23 Premier League fixtures under the Spaniard. Lopetegui would love to make Kilman a similar mainstay of his West Ham defence.

Despite being left-footed, Kilman played the whole 21/22 season on the right side of a back three, meaning he often inverted. He would often carry the ball out of defence before finding Ruben Neves or Joao Moutinho in central areas. Wolves fans were very impressed with how quickly he developed his positional awareness in a new role too.

Lopetegui moved Kilman back to his preferred left centre-back role, pairing him with former West Ham cult hero Craig Dawson. They formed a very solid partnership at the Molineux, and Lopetegui will be hoping he can play even better alongside Mavropanos.

Kilman has had a completely different career to some of the other players the club have been linked to this summer, with plenty coming from Brazil. Kilman, also eligible for Ukraine through his mother, started his football career playing futsal.

He was part of a futsal academy before joining Fulham’s academy, then moving to Gillingham. However, he was unable to make a breakthrough there and joined Welling where he made just one appearance in a season. He then joined Maidenhead United where he was loaned out to local side Marlow. Kilman returned to Maidenhead, making 39 appearances before earning a move to Wolves in 2018.

Throughout his non-league career, Kilman kept playing futsal. He represented England 25 times between 2015 and 2018.

The Englishman was influential in the Wolves team that won the PL2 Division 2 title for Wolves U21’s in 18/19. This was rewarded by Nuno Espirito Santo with his Premier League debut in May 2019, coming on in the closing minutes of a 1-0 win over Fulham.

In 19/20 Kilman made 3 Premier League appearances and 4 Europa League appearances, as well as being a mainstay on the bench.

He became slightly more important in 20/21, making twelve starts and eighteen league appearances in total. However, it was reported that Espirito Santo would’ve been happy for him to depart.

It wasn’t until 21/22, when Bruno Lage arrived for Kilman to become a mainstay of the Wolves defence. He started all but eight Premier League matches, missing out on six due to injury. He started all eight games at the start of the 22/23 season before Lage was sacked after a 2-0 defeat to West Ham at the start of October, thanks to goals from Scamacca and Bowen.

He remained a crucial part of the team when Julen Lopetegui took over. This was the start of rumours of a big-money move for the defender, being linked to both Manchester United, Chelsea and now West Ham.

Kilman has been even more important for Gary O’Neil, he played every single minute of the 23/24 Premier League campaign. William Saliba of Arsenal was the only other outfield player to do this. This would be a huge positive for West Ham, who are used to players like Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd picking up injuries.