Football News

West Ham’s ‘Terry-esque’ ball-player is not off limits and Chelsea transfer talk won’t go away

By Ben Green

Published: 6:30, 8 April 2021

David Moyes has refused to rule out the possibility of West Ham selling either Declan Rice or Tomas Soucek this summer.

The Hammers have been in stellar form this season and are currently occupying the final Champions League qualification place with just eight games remaining, recently seeing off Wolves 3-2 at Molineux on Monday night.

The double-midfield pivot of Rice and Soucek has been the vital artery of West Ham this season, with the duo working tirelessly in tandem to energise the side, and the former stepping in as captain in place of Mark Noble, who has transitioned to a peripheral role under Moyes.

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Such has been Rice’s progress that he is now a regular starter for England, while he has made the second-most interceptions of any Premier League midfielder this season (58), which places him ahead of N’Golo Kante (54) and serves to underpin the level he is currently operating at.

Together Rice and Soucek have taken the club to new heights and fans now harbour ambitions of European football next season, a scenario that seemed unthinkable 12 months ago when the club were fighting tooth and nail to simply remain in the division.

Speaking ahead of his side’s win over Wolves earlier this week, Moyes admitted that the club would “consider” an offer for either player this summer, but was steadfast in his belief that it would take an exorbitant fee to tempt the club into selling.

“Yes, any club can make offers for players but we’ve not had any big offers,” he stated.

“I hope we don’t get any but if we do, like any other club, we would consider them.

“I don’t know where the Bank of England is for Tomas Soucek but I’ve said with Declan, it would take the Bank of England and the Royal Bank of Scotland to get him. It will have to be the Bank of Czech as well for Tomas!”

While Moyes wouldn’t go into any greater detail or offer a ballpark figure that would potentially whet the club’s appetite, he has previously talked up Rice’s price tag, suggesting it would take a nine-figure sum before the club entertained the idea of selling their stalwart.

“Rice is a £100m footballer,” Moyes stated last month. “Far, far more than £100m. Far, far more.” 

‘An ambipedal passer in the mould of Terry’

Among those to have been most heavily linked with the 22-year-old, Chelsea — whom Rice represented at academy level between 2006 and 2014 — are believed to be the most eager on luring the England international back across the M25.

And Jamie Carragher, speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football earlier this season, likened the West Ham star to Chelsea legend and the club’s third-highest appearance maker, John Terry, believing the two share similar ambipedal passing traits.

He said: “There is a lot of chat that he’s not a very good passer, but he can pass. He can pass with his right and left foot.

“The only one who I can think of who used to do that consistently was John Terry. People who tell me at times that he can’t pass, I just don’t see it.”

It is no wonder Carragher has highlighted the passing exploits of Rice, who has been one of the division’s most consistent ball-players this term, ranking in the top 10 for passing accuracy among players with over 2000 minutes (87.92%), an area that includes the likes of Rodri, Ruben Dias and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Terry’s former England centre-back partner, Rio Ferdinand, is among those who believe it’s only a matter of time before Rice and West Ham part ways, with the 42-year-old even namedropping the west London club as a potential destination should a summer transfer materialise.

“I think it’s inevitable that he is going to go,” said Ferdinand of Rice earlier this year, adding: “If I’m being realistic it’ll be the summer and it would be Chelsea if he gets his wish.”