West Ham United completed a good summer of transfer business with the signing of Czech Republic central midfielder Alex Král on a season-long loan from Spartak Moscow.
The instantly recognisable 23-year-old won the Czech First League title with Slavia Prague before continuing his career in Russia with Spartak, while also earning more than 20 senior caps for his country and appearing at UEFA Euro 2020.
Now, he is taking the next step by joining the Hammers, where he is reunited with his former Slavia and current Czech Republic teammates Tomáš Souček and Vladimír Coufal, and is relishing the opportunity to play in the Premier League and UEFA Europa League in Claret and Blue.
Speaking to West Ham TV via Zoom from the Czech Republic national team base in Prague, Král spoke positively and excitedly about his future in east London...
Welcome to West Ham, Alex! How do you feel after completing your move to London Stadium?
“I feel really good. It was a little bit stressful because until the last moment I didn’t know if I would transfer or not. The clubs were still speaking on the last day, but I’m really happy they could find a away and I could join West Ham.”
It’s a big move for you, joining a big club in the English Premier League, so how excited are you for the future?
“I’m really excited because it’s a big move for me and all the time if I make a move in my career I try to go step by step and this one is a big step, a big challenge, but I’m looking forward for this.
“The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world and also one of the hardest, but it’s not just about playing in the Premier League. It’s about playing for West Ham, which is a club with big tradition and big history and they are in a good place, so it’s a big challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
It’s a good time to be joining West Ham, too, as we’re in good shape. What did the manager tell you about his plans?
“I spoke with the manager [David Moyes], but it was only a short conversation as I am away with the national team. I also spoke with him about how I want to concentrate on the national team now because it is really important for me as we have two qualification games for the World Cup.
“We were in contact and Mark Noble wrote me a message on WhatsApp welcoming me to West Ham and these small things are really nice for me.”
We know Tomáš Souček gave Vladimír Coufal a positive recommendation before he joined, and now they must both have given you a good recommendation, too, because you have signed for us!
“Yeah, Tomas and Vlad were like my second agent! Of course, they helped a lot and I’m really happy I can join West Ham and show my qualities.”
Sports agent Soucek continues. Welcome to our club, @alexkralcz ! ⚒??— Tomáš Souček (@tomassoucek28) August 31, 2021
What did they tell you about West Ham and London?
“They said it is a really nice city and the people in London really live for football and also before the games at the stadiums you really feel the atmosphere and it’s something different than in other leagues or countries, so I’m really excited to feel it.”
What can you tell us about your qualities as a player?
“I think I have good movement with or without the ball and try to be in the right places. I think I’m the type of player who constantly has the desire to improve his game and I think I’m good in challenges and recovering balls, so this is what I want to show in the Premier League for West Ham.”
We have a strong squad and have signed some good, experienced players this summer...
“For sure, it’s a really good squad. For example, I know Nikola Vlašić from CKSA, so we were big rivals and now we are teammates! I also know him from Under-21s when we played against Croatia and also from Euro 2020 when we also played Croatia, so I know him really well.
“For sure, really good defenders have come and many players in the team are at a high level. It’s the Premier League and I think it’s good for us because it pushes me and I push them to do better and better on the pitch.”
You also played against Declan Rice at the Euros, so with him, yourself and Tomáš in the central midfield there is real quality and competition…
“Also, how I said, they push me to move me onto another level and I think I’m a player who can learn really fast and I’m going to take those experiences and show them on the pitch.”
Are you aware of the growing love between West Ham and the Czech Republic?
“Yeah, I’m happy I can join my Czech teammates. I already played with them in Slavia and in the national team and also [Women’s midfielder] Kateřina Svitková is also a Czech girl so I’m really glad I can be the next Czech in West Ham!”
We’re in the Europa League. You reached the quarter-finals with Slavia, so you have experience of the competition. Are you excited to be returning to it?
“These games in Europa League are something special and are an opportunity to confront teams from different countries and different leagues, so each player wants to play in these games.”
You’re a keen Instagrammer, so what do you like to do away from football?
“Most of the time I spend with my girlfriend. We like to spend time together and also with our friends, to go to restaurants, but first I like to do my recovery and gym after training. When these things are done and I have a little bit of time, I like to play on the PlayStation – classic footballer things!”
Your home debut could be against Manchester United on Sunday 19 September, so how much are you relishing that game?
“For sure, it’s a confrontation with some of the best players and one of the best teams in the world, so each player wants to play in these games. It’s the highest level you can play so I’m really looking forward because these games can put you on a different level.”