By Daniel Feliciano

17th Dec, 2021 | 8:10pm

West Ham issued hands-off warning in Paddy McNair pursuit

West Ham have been issued with a hands-off warning by Middlesbrough in their pursuit of a January transfer for defender Paddy McNair.

The Hammers have been linked with a move for a defender following long-term injury to Angelo Ogbonna, followed by an injury to Kurt Zouma too that will keep him out until the new year at least.

Middlesbrough man McNair had been linked with a move back to the Premier League, having come through the Manchester United academy but manager Chris Wilder has issued a hands-off warning for the 26-year-old.

McNair has been linked with a move to Celtic and West Ham but with a contract until 2024 and no immediate rush to leave on the player’s side, Wilder says he won’t be going anywhere.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, he said;

“I don’t have to fight hard to keep hold of (McNair) really. He’s our player and he understands where we are trying to get to.

“Good players will always have interest in them, especially at this time in the season coming into January.

“A lot of speculation but until I get a phone call, which I haven’t, everybody is here and fighting towards getting into the team and producing good performances and hopefully getting good results for the football club.”

Blow

The news will come as a blow to Moyes’s January transfer plans, as McNair could fill a number of roles in the West Ham side.

He has previously played as a right-back and in central midfield but is at his best in the centre of defence and would have been a good option for the Hammers.

With 51 international caps for Northern Ireland, he is greatly experienced at the highest level but is also young enough to be coached and improved, something that Moyes looks for in all his players.

The Hammers have also been linked with Nathaniel Phillips of Liverpool, but he is likely to cost significantly more than McNair would have done and would take a big chunk out of their budget.

West Ham need a defender in January, and someone versatile would have been ideal. But judging by Wilder’s words, it won’t be McNair.

In other West Ham news, Jesse Lingard asking price ‘could thwart’ January move.