According to Manchester Evening News, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has refused to rule out a summer exit for Declan Rice. The midfielder has been linked with a move away from London Stadium, with Manchester United reportedly interested in his services.
Speaking after the win over Watford at the weekend, Pellegrini said, “Maybe some of the big teams, or all of them, will want him. But that is one thing – the other is whether he will stay here or he goes, and I cannot say at this moment.”
Rice has been a crucial player for West Ham, having featured in 34 matches this season. And his departure will create a large gaping hole in the middle. But, it could also pave the way for their current crop of midfielders to play a more prominent role next season. Here are a few options Pellegrini could explore, especially should Rice leave the club in the summer.
What’s next for Jack Wilshere?
Since joining West Ham last summer, life has been difficult for Jack Wilshere so far. The former Arsenal star suffered an ankle injury at the start of the campaign. As a result, he has mustered a little under 400 minutes of league action this season. He did, however, make substitute appearances in the last couple of matches. And the departure of Rice could allow Wilshere to play a more prominent role for the Hammers next season.
Although he lacks the physicality and aggression of Rice, his chance creation and technical quality could help West Ham create more chances in the final third. It will also allow the experienced Mark Noble to play in a more withdrawn role. However, a lot will depend on whether or not he can keep himself fit for next season. It will undoubtedly be a massive boost for Pellegrini if he does.
An improved role for Carlos Sanchez?
Another key revelation that will be interesting to keep an eye on this summer will be the future of Carlos Sanchez. The Colombian international arrived from Fiorentina for less than €5 million last summer. He is also the only like for like replacement for Rice available for West Ham at the moment.
But, much like Wilshere, Sanchez’s progress at West Ham has been marred with injuries. The 33-year-old sustained a knee surgery that kept him for a chunk of the campaign. At the age of 33, it would be wise to assume that Sanchez will be a bit-part player under Pellegrini next season. However, he is proficient in breaking up play and creating turnovers in midfield. Hence, he remains a viable option for Pellegrini.
Are West Ham set for another spending spree this summer?
West Ham spent over €100 million last summer, and we could expect more of the same this time out. The departure of Rice will help fund a move for a potential replacement. And Pellegrini is going to have a lot of options in the market. Hector Herrera, for one, could be an excellent replacement for the English international. The FC Porto midfielder has been one of the most consistent players in the LIGA NOS over the past few years, and his incredible work-ethic could make West Ham much more vigilant in midfield.
Another option for the Hammers is former QPR midfielder, Gary Medel. The Chilean international currently plays for Besiktas but was linked with a move to West Ham back in December. The 31-year-old has a vast amount of experience in top-flight football and could be a smart short-term investment for the Londoners.