Transfers West Ham need to replace Declan Rice

Replacing Declan Rice may well be an impossible task for West Ham this summer.

The Hammers are set to part ways with their skipper after they accepted a bid of £105m from Arsenal for the midfielder’s services. It was an offer they simply couldn’t refuse with Rice’s contract situation in east London a rather precarious one.

The club sought to squeeze everything they could out of Rice’s potential suitors to ensure they’d be in a strong financial position to reinvest those funds right away.

As a result, West Ham will have plenty to play with in their search for a replacement and here are a few possibilities.

Joao Palhinha

Fulham have slapped a huge price tag on Palhinha’s head / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Fulham’s reported £90m valuation of Palhinha, signed from Sporting CP last summer, is a bit ridiculous but West Ham are said to still boast an interest in the Portugal international.

Nevertheless, the Cottagers are right to value Palhinha so highly given his excellent debut season in the Premier League, but there’s no way West Ham will come close to matching that asking price.

While Palhinha had his fair share of disciplinary woes last season, he quickly emerged as one of the division’s most proficient ball winners. Despite missing several games due to suspension, Palhinha notched 37 more tackles and interceptions than any other Premier League player.

He’s quite an outstanding defender.

Kalvin Phillips

Could West Ham replace Rice with his international teammate? / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

There was certainly a prolonged period in 2021 when Phillips outshone Rice for the national team, but Gareth Southgate’s subtle switch to a three-man midfield as opposed to a double pivot has seen Rice prosper with Phillips reduced to a bit-part role.

The ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ earned a big move to Manchester City after starring under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds, but he could depart the Etihad after just a season. Rodri’s excellence and consistent availability meant Phillips notched a mere 593 minutes during the Citizens’ treble-winning campaign.

Despite his desire to continue at City and work his way into Pep Guardiola’s plans, the Manchester club will likely sell if a fair offer comes in this summer. West Ham are one of several clubs linked with a move and Phillips would certainly thrive in David Moyes’ double pivot.


Edson Alvarez

The Hammers could have a free run at Alvarez this summer / BSR Agency/GettyImages

West Ham’s interest in Ajax’s Alvarez was made clear earlier this summer, but the Mexico international seemed destined for Borussia Dortmund.

A deal was close, but BVB have since pulled out the race because of the player’s price tag. He’s too expensive for the German club.

However, the finances won’t be an issue for the Hammers, especially after Rice’s exit is sealed. Alvarez has a wealth of experience and West Ham could now have a free run at one of their preferred targets.

The 25-year-old is cautious in possession but sturdy defensively. Overall, he’s the perfect foil for a player of Lucas Paqueta’s flair and ball mastery.

Denis Zakaria

Interest in Zakaria has increased over the past week / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Considering the pretty rubbish situation he was thrust into at Chelsea, Zakaria handled himself well and many have said he wasn’t used anywhere near enough.

A similar tale played out at Juventus, although the midfielder’s injury woes will undoubtedly be a source of concern for any potential future employers.

When fit and firing, though, Zakaria is an impressive box-to-box force who can excel in a variety of roles. Considering his valuation, this would be a really smart piece of business from West Ham and would open the door to potentially bringing another midfielder in.

Scott McTominay

McTominay could be on the move this summer / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

Don’t you dare roll your eyes, West Ham fans. McTominay may not be the glamourous or exotic name you crave, but he’s a more than functional Premier League midfielder.

The versatile Scotsman is an incredible athlete who can cover ground out of possession and contribute to a high press akin to Rice. Sure, he’s not as astute positionally nor as refined in possession, but he’s an effective box-to-box performer who has the knack for getting himself on the scoresheet.

If Man Utd’s asking price is reasonable, this is a move the Hammers should be exploring. However, they’d need to bring in someone else alongside McTominay.


On this week’s edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby CudworthGraeme Bailey and Sean Walsh to discuss Mason Mount’s impending move to Man Utd, Arsenal’s various deals, Liverpool’s pursuit of Dominik Szoboszlai and more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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