Maguire, McTominay and Ward-Prowse have been linked – West Ham need to get serious in transfer hunt

Maguire, McTominay and Ward-Prowse have been linked – West Ham need to get serious in transfer hunt

West Ham United are the only Premier League club who are yet to make a summer signing — as startling a statement as it is worrying for David Moyes and the club’s supporters.

As the clock ticks closer to their league opener against Bournemouth on August 12, West Ham are no closer to finding a replacement for Declan Rice (following his £105million switch to Arsenal), the squad is in a worse state than it was at this stage last year and they still have not announced successors for former first-team coaches Mark Warburton and Paul Nevin.

But the pressing issue is the prolonged search for Rice’s replacement. Internally, the hierarchy knew in December that this window was their last chance to earn a sizeable fee for Rice. But the haphazard nature of their bids for his successor has left little to be desired. The Athletic, on condition of anonymity to protect relationships, has spoken to leading agents in football and some expressed frustration over how West Ham are conducting their business.

History shows West Ham have a tendency of making underwhelming opening offers and that is continuing this summer, a case in point being the £20m offer for Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, which was rejected out of hand.

“We’re a big football club that has been relegated to the Championship but we’ve got a value and we’re not going to allow our players to leave if we don’t feel it’s a win-win,” Jason Wilcox, Southampton’s sporting director, told the Southern Daily Echo.

Southampton’s valuation of Ward-Prowse is £40m but it is thought they would sell for £35m. Ward-Prowse is 28, an England international and proven in the Premier League. The midfielder being a dead-ball specialist would complement Moyes’ squad. As it stands, Conor Coventry, Lucas Paqueta, Tomas Soucek and Flynn Downes are Moyes’ midfield options.

Coventry has only played one minute of top-flight football, while Downes has been the subject of transfer speculation. Youngsters Freddie Potts and Kamarai Simon-Swyer have joined Wycombe Wanderers and Crawley Town on season-long loans respectively.

Despite Tim Steidten’s appointment as technical director, it remains Moyes’ preference to recruit British and homegrown players this summer. West Ham had a £40m bid for Conor Gallagher rejected by Chelsea and the 23-year-old intends on staying at the west London club and impressing new manager Mauricio Pochettino. Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay is a target for Moyes but an offer is yet to be made.

McTominay’s team-mate Harry Maguire was the subject of a £20m offer by West Ham, another that was quickly rejected. Moyes wants Maguire, who was relieved of the United captaincy by Erik ten Hag ahead of the new season, but it is doubtful they will keep pushing given the size of his salary and it is also unclear if the England centre-back would be keen to make the move. Another defensive target is Bayer Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah.

“The club have made several offers for players,” Moyes told Sky Sports. “We are out in the market. We are quite active. Hopefully, some of them will come off in the future.”

But attempts to bolster their midfield options remain arduous. Having seen their £45m offer rejected for Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha, West Ham have turned to other targets. Denis Zakaria’s proposed loan move from Juventus has reached an impasse, while there has been no progress with talks over Ajax for midfielder Edson Alvarez.

West Ham did their business late last summer and it worked against them as they were sucked into a relegation battle. Lucas Paqueta, Thilo Kehrer and Emerson were late arrivals and the trio struggled with form during the early stages of the season. Lessons have not been learnt and West Ham are playing catch up, despite the lure of the Europa League.

Paqueta only arrived at West Ham last August and took time to settle (Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Aston Villa signed Pau Torres for £33m, Newcastle United have signed Harvey Barnes and broke their transfer record for Sandro Tonali, Tottenham Hotspur have recruited James Maddison, a previous target for West Ham. Even Bournemouth look in better shape, having spent more than £40m on Romain Faivre, Justin Kluivert and Hamed Traore.

But is not just incomings which are giving Moyes cause for concern. Aaron Cresswell and Nikola Vlasic are keen on joining Wolverhampton Wanderers and Torino, while Michail Antonio continues to be linked to Steven Gerrard’s new club, Al Ettifaq, in Saudi Arabia. Cresswell has lost his place in the team to Emerson and the 33-year-old was not in the matchday squad for the 3-1 friendly defeat against Rennes.

Vlasic, who joined for £25.7m in 2021, has taken a leaf out of Gianluca Scamacca’s book. The midfielder wants to finalise a return to Torino within the next 10 days and he did not hold back in his interview with TuttoSport: “I’m fed up with this dead-end situation,” said Vlasic. “We all know that I’m not considered an important player here, I’m just one of many in the reserve group.

“I returned to London respecting the call-up with great fairness and I am training every day with the utmost professionalism, but this cannot be the solution. I’ve been telling you for two months that I want to play for Torino, that I no longer want to stay at West Ham under these conditions, on the sidelines. Your behaviour is incomprehensible. I know that Torino has already offered you €9m for a long time, an important figure, respectful of my value and your needs.

“But you don’t intend to negotiate with Torino, you repeat that it’s not enough, but you still don’t communicate to the Italian club what the right figure is, in your opinion. I’m worried: I will continue training with great seriousness, but it cannot go on like this.”

What a mess it is all turning into.

It is 34 days and counting before the window closes. Time is running out and, more importantly, Rice is no longer around to be West Ham’s saviour. They need quality additions — quickly.

(Main image: from left, Maguire, McTominay and Ward-Prowse. Photos: Getty Images)

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