West Ham capped off a season of domestic mediocrity with a historic night that will live long in the memory of Irons players and fans alike. The East Londoners ended a 44-year trophy drought with a Jarrod Bowen winner in the Europa Conference League final.
GIVEMESPORT VIDEO OF THE DAY
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
At the very centre of West Ham’s triumph was captain, Declan Rice, a player whose stock has incrementally risen season after season.
Unfortunately though, it appears the England international has made his last outing in claret and blue, with Sky Sports reporting this morning that Arsenal and West Ham have reached an agreement over a £105m transfer.
Rice will be leaving big boots for his successor to fill, and as such, West Ham are likely already lining up his replacement. Here are four players that could assume the Rice-shaped mantle left in East London…
The Swiss international has had somewhat of a strange career thus far. Earning a move to Borussia Mönchengladbach, the central defensive midfielder clocked 125 appearances in the Bundesliga during a mightily impressive stint with the German outfit. Catching the eye of Serie A giants Juventus in 2021, Zakaria headed over to Turin to join up with Allegri’s men, only to be sent out on loan again a year later after featuring on just nine occasions in the league.
With the same fate unravelling at Chelsea, the 26-year-old is left to reignite his career away from Northern Italy and West London, with West Ham interested in unlocking the talents that saw Zakaria seal a move to Juventus from Gladbach. The towering midfielder could be the perfect replacement for Declan Rice, whose physical attributes certainly outweigh that of his potential predecessor, and the likening of his ability to Patrick Vieira may excite Hammers fans.
The former Sporting Lisbon midfielder was a revelation at Craven Cottage last term. During his debut season in the Premier League, the 27-year-old Portugal international was Fulham’s standout performer, and was rightly awarded the club’s Player of the Season Award. Luring the player over to East London may be a tough ask, with Fulham reportedly demanding an eye-watering sum of £90 million for his services. However, with West Ham expected to recoup big money for Declan Rice, the Irons will hardly be strapped for cash.
Palhinha’s work defensively could prove to be irreplaceable for the Cottagers. The midfielder made a staggering 4.2 tackles a game last season, recording a whopping 147 successful challenges overall, making him the most prolific tackler in the league. West Ham leaked 55 top flight goals during the 2022-23 season, an underwhelming stat that a manager of David Moyes’ defensive nous may seek to rectify.
Two years ago, Kalvin Phillips was starring for England in a European Championship final, fast-forward 24 months and the ex-Leeds hero has been a part of a Manchester City squad that made history by being the first English team to win the treble since their rivals, Manchester United in 1999.
However, Phillips certainly didn’t play the part in City’s triumph that he would have hoped. Reduced to just 12 Premier League games and two starts all season, it would be remiss of the England star to rule out a move away from Manchester, having signed for the side for £42 million just 12 months ago.
The central defensive midfielder has been linked with a move to West Ham, and David Moyes allegedly tried to sign Phillips during his days at Leeds United.
Everton’s Amadou Onana battles with Arsenal’s Martin Ødegaard
The Toffees survived to see another day in the top flight, and those monumental efforts to retain their status as a Premier League club could be ascribed to several factors, including last summer’s acquisition of Amadou Onana. The Belgian international was a shining light during a desperate season for the blue half of Merseyside, earning praise for a standout performance in 1-0 win over Arsenal in February.
At 21, Onana still has years of development ahead of him, so could be very much worth the investment from any potential suitor, with West Ham, as per The Sun, interested in bringing Onana to the London Stadium.