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West Ham Looking At A Move For English Set-piece Specialist

West Ham are reportedly ready to intensify their pursuit of Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse.

The 11-cap England international, 28, seems like he could leave the Saints this transfer window following their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season. So far, the central midfielder has had enquiries from around ten clubs this summer.

According to The Daily Mail, West Ham are set to bid around £20m for James Ward-Prowse, which is only half of what Southampton want for their skipper but age has prevented the elite ones to make a move.

After relegation, the Saints had wanted to recoup around £100million in player sales and valued Ward-Prowse at around £40m, however, West Ham will look to thrash out a deal for around half that price. The report adds the Hammers want the 28-year-old Saints’ star and a more physical holding midfielder—in the ilk of Leeds United’s Tyler Adams or Denis Zakaria of Juventus.

James Ward-Prowse to West Ham—Smart buy?

The transfer of Declan Rice from West Ham United to Arsenal is nearing completion, with the England international set to arrive at the Emirates Stadium for around £105 million. This would make Rice the second-most expensive player in Premier League history.

Rice, 24, recently enjoyed a memorable farewell with David Moyes’ West Ham, helping the east London club secure the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy. With his West Ham chapter seemingly completed, David Moyes has a huge task of replacing his former skipper in the squad for the 2023/24 campaign.

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has emerged as a potential option to replace Rice at the London Stadium. Since making his first-team debut for Southampton, Ward-Prowse has gone on to rack up 343 Premier League appearances, scoring 49 goals and registering 40 assists. He played every Premier League game in the 2022-23 campaign and was his club’s top scorer with nine goals, whilst adding four assists on top of that.

With 17 top-flight free-kicks, the English midfielder now only trails David Beckham’s all-time record by just one goal. Ward-Prowse’s set-piece prowess, combined with his versatility and leadership skills, would make him a fantastic fit at West Ham, who will need a midfield general as well as a captain next season following the departure of Rice. At 28, the Southampton star is at the peak of his powers and could make an immediate impact for Moyes’ side should a deal go through.

For someone like Ward-Prowse who is hugely experienced and more than capable of winning games single-handedly on his day, West Ham should be all over him. If they can wrap up a deal in the region of £20-£25m, it would represent a terrific piece of business.

Rohan Sengupta

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