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5 possible replacements for Declan Rice after he joined Arsenal

West Ham have finally parted ways with Declan Rice after he joined Arsenal. Here we look at five possible replacements for the England international.


West Ham have finally parted ways with Declan Rice. It was inevitable and the club properly paid their tribute to one of their fine heroes of the modern era.

Rice has moved to bitter London rivals Arsenal for a reported fee of £105m, which is a British transfer record. David Moyes always insisted that the Hammers will not sell their prized asset cheaply and the club ensured they got the best possible financial reward for selling Rice.

There were other clubs that showed interest in Rice but he was determined to move to Arsenal who challenged Manchester City for the Premier League title last season. He was sold by Mikel Arteta’s vision and West Ham didn’t stand in his way.

Rice penned an emotional letter to the fans stating why he wanted to leave. He ended the 2022-23 season strongly by winning the Europa Conference League, but it was time for him to move on.

Since coming through the youth academy at the club, Rice has gradually developed into a top midfielder and a true fan favourite.

Under the leadership of Mark Nobles, he developed his character in such a way that he quickly became a role model both on and off the pitch. It won’t be easy to find another leader who leads by example.

However, the past three-four years have been something else. Under Moyes, the Hammers twice came close to securing a European berth, and while they were disappointing last season, finally they managed to lift a European trophy, which is a watershed moment for the club.

Rice has played a massive part in it. While he was always a good defensive midfielder, he appeared to have taken his game to a whole new level. The confidence was overflowing in his game.

He impressed heavily in Euro 2020 and since then he never looked back. He knew that big clubs will come for him and that he will get an opportunity to play in the Champions League, but first, he has to show his worth by becoming consistent at West Ham.

The 24-year-old has been a symbol of excellence for both club and country in recent years. Apart from his normal defensive midfield job, he is now an excellent passer of the ball. But where he has made genuine improvements is in driving the ball forward with bursting runs from midfield.

Last season he scored some crucial goals as well. At the same time, no player is bigger than the club as West Ham must now look forward to replenishing the void.

Last season was a disaster for the Hammers in the Premier League. But the fans never lost faith and West Ham tickets were still difficult to get hold of every week, with the London Stadium sold out for most games.

With the money they have got now, Moyes must bring in the right kind of players. This is a recurrent theme with Moyes. He is someone who can bring the best out of a decent side, but whenever he has been given loads of money to operate on, he has badly failed.

One of the reasons why West Ham fared poorly last season was due to their poor recruitment. They made some big-money signings. While Nayef Aguerd and Lucas Paqueta have done well in bits and parts, Gianluca Scamacca has proved to be a failure.

So, the key here is for the Hammers to not only identify positions that need to be bolstered but Moyes must be given the freedom to sign players of his choice.

Obviously, the Hammers will need to sign a top-class midfielder, but they should also look to sign a quality striker, a goal-scoring attacking midfielder, and a versatile defender. But we take a look at five midfielders who can replace Rice.

Denis Zakaria

The 26-year-old Swiss defensive midfielder is a class act. Despite suffering from injury issues over the past couple of seasons, Zakaria can be a potent weapon for the Hammers if he stays fit.

The Juventus midfielder was on loan at Chelsea last season. He only managed 7 Premier League appearances, but he showed glimpses of his vast potential.

He is someone who has an eye for a pass and can come up with odd goals. If he stays fit, his best years are ahead of him. Zakaria has been linked with a move to West Ham, and Moyes mustn’t hesitate to sign him.

James Ward-Prowse

The Southampton skipper is likely to leave the club this summer but as of now, no club has come up with a formal bid.

He has got a wealth of Premier League experience. Known for his set-piece abilities, he could be a great addition to the side.

Moreover, Ward-Prowse is a fantastic leader as well. West Ham do not need to sign a like-for-like replacement for Rice, but they need to find players who can do the job perfectly for Moyes.

He is hardworking, committed, and always gives his best. Moreover, Southampton do not have enough choice to command a massive transfer fee following their relegation, and hence he could be a great addition to the Hammers squad.

Joao Palhinha

Transfer insider Dean Jones suggested that West Ham are head-on-heels to sign the highly-rated Fulham midfielder but it won’t be easy as it sounds.

The 28-year-old was outstanding for the Cottagers last season, and he is enjoying his peak form at the moment. He can transform the Hammers completely.

The Portuguese midfielder is a robust midfielder but Fulham are expected to demand a high price for him. West Ham cannot afford to splash anything over £60m-£70m on one single player, rather they must use the Rice money to bolster several areas of the pitch.

Yunus Musah  

The Hammers have reportedly indicated their interest in USMNT and Valencia midfielder Musah, who has been made available for a transfer by the cash-strapped Spanish side.

Valencia rejected a verbal offer from Chelsea to sign him in January, but the situation could change easily this summer.

Los Che will demand fee of around £20m for the 20-year-old US international, who is also on the radar of Fulham in the Premier League and Serie A side AC Milan.

Despite only being 20 years old, the former Arsenal youngster has featured extensively for club and country, making 108 appearances for Valencia.

He is capable of impacting the game in several phases of play. He is quite versatile in midfield and has the potential to grow into a top player.

Conor Gallagher

Chelsea have already sold the likes of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and they are willing to offload Gallagher as well.

If he is made available in the market, the Hammers should look to sign him at the earliest. He was outstanding for Crystal Palace on loan in 2021-22 and did reasonably well for the Blues last season.

A player with bundles of energy, Gallagher will provide something extra that the current West Ham midfield is missing. He has the age and experience to shine in the Premier League and need someone like Moyes who will trust him.

There are other names in the market that Moyes should definitely explore. But it has been proven that he can get the best out of young and hungry players mostly, and the club should give him the freedom to make necessary additions.

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