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West Ham target Tom Cairney is easily the best player in the Championship

So, of course, he should be a Hammer

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: Second Leg Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

West Ham target Tom Cairney is statistically the best player in the Championship, according to Squawka.

The Fulham midfielder is being linked with a move to a host of Premier League clubs including Newcastle, Southampton and Everton as well as West Ham United after an impressive season at Craven Cottage.

The 26-year-old playmaker – who captained Fulham to the play-offs this season – would be an ideal fit for West Ham as direct competition for Mark Noble’s spot in central midfield behind Manu Lanzini. And the stats certainly back that up – with Cairney rated as by far the most effective footballer in England’s second tier this term.

Cairney has a performance score of 2,077 – a massive 726 points ahead of second placed Lewis Dunk, who helped Brighton achieve their first promotion to the Premier League.

The Nottingham born midfielder has an incredible possession score of 850 – far and away the best in the league, with second placed Jonathan Hogg coming in at just 298.

For comparison, Mark Noble has a possession score of 138 for this season while the frontrunner for 2016-2017’s Premier League Player of the Season award, N’Golo Kante, has a possession score of just 179. West Ham’s best player in possession, Manu Lanzini, has a possession score four times lower than Cairney’s at 213.

Despite his immense season for the Cottagers, Cairney won’t be a familiar name to many Hammers. So, what’s he all about?

Cairney is a dynamic, playmaking central midfield player who can play both sitting deep in front of a defence and dictating the tempo in behind the striker. He has a passing accuracy for the season of a whopping 92%, six percent higher than anyone else in the Championship and four percent higher than anyone at West Ham. Not only is Cairney’s passing accurate but it’s dangerous, and the 26-year-old has completed 105 key passes this term – which you won’t be surprised to learn is a league high.

Cairney also has 10 assists, second only behind Conor Hourihane’s 13, and seven more than West Ham’s top assister Michail Antonio.

West Ham have seldom controlled matches this season and look completely at a loss whenever they’re without skipper Mark Noble.

With Noble this season, West Ham have won 30% of their games -- without him they've won none.

When Noble plays, West Ham average 1.2 goals per game and concede 1.7 -- without him they have scored an average of 0.8 and concede 2.3. Possession, too, suffers, and the Hammers' average possession of 48% with their captain drops to just 43% when he's unavailable. If West Ham are to become a more varied and dynamic team and compete in the top half, they will need to somehow wean themselves off of Noble's influence.

In Tom Cairney they have the perfect opportunity to do so -- but the player might just think clubs like Southampton would offer him a better chance to develop his game.

Sadly, he wouldn't be wrong.