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Transfer Talk: West Ham prepare for life without Rice
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Adam Drury

West Ham are playing for a place in their first major final since 2006 when they take on AZ Alkmaar in their Europa Conference League semi-final second leg tonight.

The competition offers the Hammers a shot at historic silverware, an achievement that would allow skipper Declan Rice to leave East London on a high.

Rice is likely to depart this summer, according to boss David Moyes, with all of the Premier League's big boys interested in signing him.

With a £100million move in the offing, it is time for the Irons to start preparing for life without their talismanic midfielder.

Gunning for the Emirates

According to reports, Arsenal is Rice's most likely destination, with the Gunners aiming to beef up their squad ahead of a first Champions League campaign in seven years.

The North Londoners appear set to sell Granit Xhaka to Bayer Leverkusen, making space for a new midfielder, and will be keen to add to their options considering the problems that have been caused by Thomas Partey's recent dip in form.

The advanced midfield role vacated by Xhaka could suit the England international perfectly, with his driving runs and eye for goal becoming an increasingly prominent feature of his play.

Manchester United look like another realistic option for the West Ham captain but remaining in the English capital is likely preferable and his route into the team is not as obvious at Old Trafford.

Declan Rice has put up some impressive numbers this season
Declan Rice has put up some impressive numbers this season

Replacing Superman

Even with £100m in the bank, replacing Rice's output will be an unenviable task.

The 24-year-old is among West Ham's best statistical performers in areas you would not even consider to be his strongest, ranking in the top five for goals, assists, big chances created and completed dribbles of all Hammers players in the Premier League this season.

He leads the way for passes, pass success rate, touches, tackles and interceptions, too, proving what a complete midfielder he has developed into.

After Rice scored in last month's 4-0 win at Bournemouth, Cherries boss Gary O'Neil praised the Three Lions ace's well-rounded game, saying: "He [Rice] is probably the best all-round midfielder we [England] have. He has physical qualities, he can get box-to-box, nice on the ball and intelligent."

The attacking side of Declan Rice's game has developed this season
The attacking side of Declan Rice's game has developed this season

Swap deals

West Ham have reportedly asked any club attempting to sign Rice to offer a player in exchange, guaranteeing them a Premier League-ready replacement in midfield.

But while Arsenal appear to be favourites to land their No1 summer target, they lack many suitable makeweights. Albert Sambi Lokonga could fit the bill but he has been used sparingly by Crystal Palace since signing on loan in January.

The Hammers might be particularly interested in dealing with Manchester City, who could offer out long-term target Kalvin Phillips, while Manchester United would likely attempt to send Scott McTominay to the London Stadium.

If Moyes casts his net wider, moves for Sporting's Manuel Ugarte or Matteo Guendouzi of Marseille would be ambitious but not out of the question.

Further reinvestment

Viktor Gyokeres is one of the best strikers in the Championship
Viktor Gyokeres is one of the best strikers in the Championship

West Ham are unlikely to spend every penny of the Rice fee on a replacement midfielder, instead reinvesting in a few different areas of the squad.

Michail Antonio's likely departure, combined with Danny Ings' patchy form and Gianluca Scamacca's injuries, means the perpetual search for a long-term No9 goes on.

Moussa Dembele is on the radar again after an underwhelming season at Lyon, while Coventry's Viktor Gyokeres leads the line superbly and would suit Moyes' counter-attacking style.

The Hammers could also use anything left in the pot to make ambitious moves for Kyle Walker from Man City and Arsenal's Reiss Nelson, the latter being available on a free transfer.


West Ham UnitedDeclan RicePremier LeagueEuropa Conference League
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