West Ham are reportedly battling with Fulham for the signing of Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder Ao Tanaka this summer, according to a fresh update.

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Who is Ao Tanaka?

The 24-year-old is currently plying his trade with Dusseldorf in Germany, making 39 starts in the Bundesliga 2 over the past two seasons, shining at the heart of his side's midfield. He has also won 19 caps at international level for Japan, scoring three goals in that time and also appearing three times at the 2022 World Cup, starting two of his country's matches.

It could be that Tanaka is interested in a move away from Dusseldorf during the current transfer window, however, even though his current deal there doesn't expire until the end of the 2024/25 season. A move to a top league is likely to appeal, and it looks as though a switch to the Premier League could potentially be on the cards in the coming weeks.

That's where West Ham come into play, as David Moyes aims to conduct some strong transfer business before the start of the 2023/24 campaign, looking to build on their fantastic UEFA Europa Conference League success last term.

Ao Tanaka for Japan

Would West Ham sign Ao Tanaka this summer?

According to Rheinische Post [via Sport Witness], the Hammers are in the conversation to sign Tanaka this summer, but they won't have a clear path when it comes to snapping him up. Fulham are also credited with interest, with West Ham's London rivals also eyeing squad reinforcements with the new Premier League season looming.

It is reportedly "no secret" that Dusseldorf expect to lose the Japan international in the near future because he himself "wants to leave" in the current window. Only €3m (£2.5m) would supposedly be required to prise him away from his current team, making it a cheap piece of business.

Tanaka wouldn't necessarily be a marquee signing by West Ham in the summer, considering he isn't exactly a household name, but he could be a shrewd addition who help fill some of the void left by Declan Rice, assuming his big-money move to Arsenal is eventually announced sooner rather than later.

He has proven himself at a World Cup, averaging one tackle and aerial duel win apiece as last year's tournament, and he is at a good age to come in and bolster the Hammers' squad options, potentially maturing as a player over time and also excelling alongside better players to the ones at Dusseldorf.

In fact, Tanaka was even handed the Player of the Match award after Japan's unforgettable 2-1 victory over Spain at the World Cup, in which he score the winning goal and generally excelled throughout - this should excite West Ham fans who could otherwise potentially feel underwhelmed about the east Londoners signing him.

Granted, signing him alone won't help make up for the incoming huge loss of Rice, who has been such a dominant performer in the middle of the park over the years, but it is a case of finding a number of quality new players in that area, in order to fully make up for his exit.