West Ham close in on £15m Fabricio Bruno deal with Wesley Gassova targeted

Brazil defender Fabricio Bruno sat out Flamengo’s Copa Libertadores victory overnight as he closes in on a £15million move to West Ham.

Bruno is on course to become the first signing of Julen Lopetegui’s regime and his arrival would mark the start of what is expected to be a significant defensive overhaul this summer. Talks have progressed well over a deal worth an initial £12.5m, with the potential for a further £2.5m in add-ons.

The 28-year-old has been a regular for Flamengo this term and had started four of the club’s previous five group stage games in what is the South American equivalent of the Champions League.

However, Bruno was left as an unused substitute in a 3-0 triumph over Columbian outfit Millonarios on Wednesday morning, with former Arsenal and Chelsea defender David Luiz instead partnering Leo Ortiz at centre-back.

Bruno refused to speak to journalists in the mixed zone following the win, while Flamenco boss Tite, the former Brazil coach, was coy on his player’s future.

“The coach doesn't ask for and doesn't release the player,” he said. “There is a hierarchy, planning, a history that the club has. I wish I could count on everyone.

“I can technically say that he is a great player and [I] wanted to count on everyone. The more players available, the better, but he has a whole management plan that is above mine."

West Ham have paid greater attention to the Brazilian market in recent years, signing young defender Luizao from Sao Paolo at the start of 2023 and failing with a move for Corinthians striker Yuri Alberto during this year’s January window.

Technical director Tim Steidten has travelled to Brazil for discussions with clubs over potential targets and, this summer, the Hammers are interested in Alberto’s Corinthians teammate Wesley Gassova as they look to bolster their forward line.

West Ham are also interest in Wesley Gassova forward (Getty Images)
West Ham are also interest in Wesley Gassova forward (Getty Images)

Defence, however, is a priority after David Moyes’s side conceded 74 goals in the Premier League last season, the most of any team to avoid relegation.

Bruno made his Brazil debut in March’s friendly against England and also played the full 90 minutes in the subsequent meeting with Spain.

The Selecao were missing several key defenders during that international break and the returns to fitness of PSG captain Marquinhos and Arsenal’s Gabriel have seen Bruno edged out of Dorival Junior’s squad for this summer’s Copa América.

That, however, would be a blessing for West Ham, allowing their new signing to join up for preseason, though it remains to be seen how the club would manage his workload given he is already midway through the Brazilian campaign.