High-flying Hammers handed squad boost with Lassana Diarra deal

West Ham United are set to complete the signing of French midfielder Lassana Diarra on a free transfer, after the former Arsenal and Chelsea star had been training with Sam Allardyce’s side.

The Hammers, 10/1 with Coral for a top six finish, will soon agree a move for former France international Diarra, following his release from Lokomotiv Moscow last year and a short spell as a free agent.

Defensive midfielder Diarra, who also counts Real Madrid among his former clubs, will boost West Ham’s central midfield options for the remainder of the season, with Allardyce hoping his high-flying Hammers can capture a European place.

The 29-year-old has been working hard to return to full match-fitness at the Upton Park outfit, with Big Sam confirming a deal is set to be agreed shortly.

“He is training with us,” said Allardyce of Diarra. “I’m not so sure whether we have finalised a deal yet but he is doing a little bit of training with us.

“The deal is very close to being finalised and on the basis of where we are with our squad and the injuries, once we have him fit he will be a very good addition based on his previous record as a footballer.”

West Ham already have a host of talented midfield options on their books but, after a series of troublesome injuries within the squad, defensively-minded Diarra may provide that extra cover needed for their run-in.

The well-travelled Frenchman will bring plenty of Premier League experience to the Hammers squad, having featured for Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth over a five-year career in England’s top-flight before making a switch to the Bernabeu.

This season, the Hammers have proved to be one of the Premier League’s surprise packages, having spent time in the top four before a drop to eighth. Big Sam’s boys have also recorded an impressive series of cup results setting up an FA Cup fifth round encounter with West Bromwich Albion next weekend.

Allardyce will hope Diarra’s free move to Upton Park can help bolster his side’s chances of success this term, with possible cup glory and a place in the Europa League next season beckoning.

Journeyman Diarra knows all about triumphing in England’s most famous cup competition, after helping guide Harry Redknapp’s Pompey side to FA Cup glory back in 2008, as well as being part of the Blues squad to win in 2007.

The Hammers are 11/1 to lift this season’s FA Cup, having overcome Everton and recently Bristol City to reach this exciting stage.