Jamie Redknapp has claimed in his Daily Mail column that West Ham United may be more inclined to sell Declan Rice this summer, with midfielder Tomas Soucek shining in claret and blue.
The Hammers have climbed to a much safer 15th place and are within an inch of securing Premier League safety – after both Rice and Soucek scored in a 3-1 win over Watford on Friday night. Michail Antonio also netted.
Soucek, 25, remains on loan from Slavia Prague but is expected to sign on a permanent basis after impressing in his 11 West Ham appearances. He has scored three goals in his last five Hammers outings, starring since the restart.
Rice, meanwhile, continues to be linked with a return to Chelsea. ESPN claim that Chelsea would have to pay £70million to sign the England defender, but Redknapp reckons David Moyes already has Rice’s replacement.
“West Ham’s owners will be delighted but at the same time frustrated. They shouldn’t be securing safety with a game or two to go,” Redknapp said. “Now their status is all but assured, I’m wondering what’s next for Declan Rice.
“He is the beating heart of that team, alongside Mark Noble. Maybe the emergence of Tomas Soucek will mean it is not the end of the world for West Ham if Rice leaves for pastures new.”
TBR’s view – Would West Ham rather £70m, or keep Rice?
Supporters are likely to be mostly in agreement in that keeping Rice is the better option. A London boy, Rice can be the club’s new Mark Noble – but a much better version of the Hammers veteran.
However, Rice will have aspirations of more than just a mid-table finish. The Hammers have the potential to qualify for Europe with the finances and players at their disposal – but never seem to match their potential.
But the Hammers board will be licking their lips if a £70million offer is accepted and as Redknapp says, Soucek’s form at least gives West Ham a ready-made replacement.