Friday, March 1, 2024

Palhinha, Alvarez & Goretzka: Who are the midfield superstars that could replace Declan Rice at West Ham this summer?

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With it finally announced last weekend that Declan Rice’s record-breaking move to Arsenal was officially complete, West Ham know that they face a crucial summer in east London.

Watching their talismanic skipper leave the London Stadium only a month after guiding the Hammers to Europa Conference League success out in Prague, David Moyes’ men have a huge hole to fill in the middle of the park.

Eventually agreeing on a fee of £105million with the Gunners after cashing in on Rice, the former Manchester United boss is more than aware that a top central midfielder is at the top of his summer wishlist.

With the Hammers’ hierarchy making it clear that they will be reinvesting in a midfield makeover before the transfer window slams shut, we have taken a look at three European stars that have been heavily linked to replace Rice at the London Stadium.

Joao Palhinha – Fulham

Shocking many last season as Fulham punched a top-half finish in their Premier League return, it was certainly Joao Palhinha who stole most of the headlines at Craven Cottage.

While the former Sporting Lisbon star might have arrived in west London last summer, Palhinha was one of the Premier League’s standout midfield stars last season and finds his stock at a real high.

Reportedly Moyes’ number-one target to replace Rice this summer, talkSPORT reported on Monday morning that the Hammers have seen an initial offer in the region of £40million knocked back.

With no Premier League player completing more tackles than the Portuguese international last season, Palhinha gained a reputation for his ability to break up play in the middle of the park.

While the Liverpool Echo might have reported over the weekend that Jurgen Klopp’s men are also keeping tabs on the 28-year-old’s situation at Craven Cottage, West Ham still believe that they are sat in pole position to snap up Palhinha’s signature before the window slams shut.

Leon Goretzka – Bayern Munich

While it might have been suggested that Palhinha is Moyes’ number-one target this summer, it appears that the Hammers could be eyeing up a potential heavyweight swoop over the coming weeks.

In what was a shock announcement on Monday afternoon, Sky Sports Germany reported that West Ham have opened discussions with Bayern Munich over a move for Leon Goretzka.

With Sky’s report suggesting that the German international star is one of the key names on Moyes’ shortlist, it does appear that the 28-year-old will be leaving the Allianz this summer.

Publicly criticised by Thomas Tuchel after returning from the World Cup’s winter break, The Metro are reporting that the German heavyweights would be willing to accept a fee of just £34million.

Lifting five Bundesliga titles and the Champions League back in 2020, West Ham will certainly face stern competition this summer. The Metro’s report suggests that Manchester United are a long-term admirer of the 53-cap international and have reached out to Goretzka’s representatives.

Edson Alvarez – Ajax

With West Ham more than aware how crucial it is to find a genuine replacement for their departing skipper this summer, Edson Alvarez has emerged as one of the Hammers’ standout options ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

While the Mexican international might have seen a potential move to Chelsea collapse during January’s transfer window, it has been suggested that Alvarez could finally be granted his Premier League switch this summer.

Although West Ham might not have placed an official bid for the 25-year-old yet, The Athletic reported over the weekend that Moyes’ men have reached out to the Ajax hierarchy and expressed their interest.

With the Dutch icons reportedly stating that they are willing to allow Alvarez to Amsterdam for a fee in the region of £35-40million, the 68-cap international is seen as a like-for-like replacement for Rice.

With Alvarez reportedly keen on the prospect of making the move to east London over the coming weeks, the Mexican midfielder would be seen as quite the coup if Moyes’ side can get a deal over the line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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