Hammers hope for Efe Ambrose deal after Matija Nastasic joins Schalke

West Ham United, 9/2 with Coral for a top six finish, will turn their attention to capturing Celtic’s Efe Ambrose after missing out on Manchester City’s Matija Nastasic, with the Serbian defender signing for Bundesliga side Schalke instead.

The Hammers reportedly made an enquiry for the Etihad centre back, but 21-year-old Nastasic sealed a move to Roberto Di Matteo’s Bundesliga outfit, joining on loan until the end of this season.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce will now aim to raid the Scottish champions for their dominant defender Ambrose, with the 26-year-old rated at £3m.

Athletic Ambrose has become a vital part of Celtic’s backline since joining from Israeli club FC Ashdod in the summer of 2012, making 25 appearances this season, including five Champions League qualifying outings.

The Nigeria international, who can play at centre half or right back, has gained a reputation as a no-nonsense defender for his rugged and commanding displays in the SPL, and would be available immediately with his country failing to qualify for this month’s African Cup of Nations.

Bhoys boss Ronny Deila would be reluctant to lose such a talented player at a crucial point of his side’s campaign, but the Norwegian coach may have to face such a dilemma with Ambrose likely to welcome an opportunity to join a Premier League side.

The Hammers started this season’s Premier League in sensational form, becoming the top-flight’s surprise package as they climbed into the top four for a brief period. However, Allardyce’s men have been stuttering lately and are without a league victory in four outings, stumbling to back-to-back draws with West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City.

West Ham are in a good condition at the back having conceded just 25 league goals this term, but with the addition of Ambrose to their squad, the Hammers could overturn a recent spell of poor performances and push for Europa League places. The East London outfit are odds-on 1/4 to finish in the top 10.