West Ham United have made Czech Republic right-back Vladimir Coufal only their second signing of a difficult summer, having completed a deal with Slavia Prague worth £5m.
Coufal, who is an international colleague and former club-mate of Hammers midfielder Tomas Soucek, has signed a three-year contract with the option to extend until 2025.
West Ham had earlier had a loan bid for Coufal rejected by Slavia, prompting the club to return with an improved permanent offer. Strengthening at right-back had become crucial following summer exits of Pablo Zabaleta and Jeremy Ngakia, worsened by the recent injury to Ryan Fredericks.
28-year-old Coufal will wear West Ham’s number five shirt.
“I’m very happy I am part of the West Ham family. I will do everything so that West Ham will be successful. I know about the interest West Ham had in me for a long time but now finally I am here and I am so happy,” the player told WHUFC.com.
“Tomas [Soucek] told me on the best things, that it’s a good stadium with good fans and perfect teammates and staff. Tomas is my very good friend and I hope he will help me here.”
Manager David Moyes spoke glowingly about the international and European experience Coufal will bring to the West Ham squad, while discussing the importance of the Czech defender having a familiar face in Soucek to help him settle faster.
“He is a player we have been tracking for some time now and all of our reports have been very impressive. He has a lot of attributes and qualities that we believe will enable him to adapt quickly to the demands of the Premier League,” Moyes explained.
“Vladimir fits the profile of the type of player we want to bring to the football club – hungry, ambitious and determined. He is a proven talent with Champions League and international experience, but we believe his best years are still ahead of him here at West Ham.
“We need to give Vladimir some time to settle in and get used to his new surroundings but having Tomas Soucek here will help him in that sense, and we are confident that he will make a positive impact and prove to be a great addition to the squad.”