WHO Poll
Q: 2023/24 Hopes & aspirations for this season
a. As Champions of Europe there's no reason we shouldn't be pushing for a top 7 spot & a run in the Cups
b. Last season was a trophy winning one and there's only one way to go after that, I expect a dull mid table bore fest of a season
c. Buy some f***ing players or we're in a battle to stay up & that's as good as it gets
d. Moyes out
e. New season you say, woohoo time to get the new kit and wear it it to the pub for all the big games, the wags down there call me Mr West Ham

Alan 12:22 Sun Apr 16
Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Manchester City are in pole position to sign 19-year-old England midfielder Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund this summer but want assurances that he wants to work with manager Pep Guardiola. (Sunday Mirror)

Brighton value Argentina midfielder Alexis Mac Allister at £60-70m but hope they could get more with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United keen on the 24-year-old. (Football Insider)

France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, 23, is struggling for first-team football at Real Madrid but they will not listen to offers. (AS - in Spanish)

Barcelona manager Xavi does not think 18-year-old Spain midfielder Gavi would be happy at a different club after he was linked with a move to Chelsea. (90min)

Barcelona and Inter Milan have discussed a swap deal involving Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessie, 26, leaving the Spanish club and Croatia midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, 30, moving in the opposite direction. (Gazzetta dello Sport - in Italian)

Chelsea have no intention of selling England Under-21 defender Levi Colwill, who is on loan at Brighton. The 20-year-old will be part of the first-team set-up at Stamford Bridge next season. (Independent)

Tottenham have opened talks with England defender Eric Dier, 29, about a new three-year deal until 2026 and want it finalised quickly regardless of who becomes the next manager. (Football Insider)

Austria midfielder Marcel Sabitzer's chances of a permanent move to Manchester United depend on Bayern Munich dropping their £25m asking price for the 29-year-old. (Sun)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will allow 31-year-old Cameroon centre-back Joel Matip to leave this summer. (Football Insider)

Liverpool have stepped up their interest in Bayern Munich's 20-year-old Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch. (Times - subscription)

Newcastle United will not offer 26-year-old French winger Allan Saint-Maximin a new contract and will listen to offers. (Teamtalk)

RB Leipzig are interested in 21-year-old Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun, who is impressing on loan at Reims, as a replacement for 25-year-old France forward Christopher Nkunku, who is set to join Chelsea in the summer. (Todofichajes - in Spanish)

Former Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira is top of Nottingham Forest's shortlist if they sack boss Steve Cooper. (Daily Star on Sunday)

Sky Paper Talk


David de Gea is unwilling to take a £9m-a-year pay cut at Manchester United.

Marcel Sabitzer's chances of a long-term stay at Old Trafford depend on Bayern Munich dropping their £25m asking price.

Manchester City began ramping up their charm offensive to land Jude Bellingham last October.

Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis is now looking around Italy for a club to join his empire.

Fulham are looking for a new goalkeeper as they fear Marek Rodak will move on in the summer.

Neil Critchley is on the managerial shortlist for a return to Blackpool.


Manchester United will seemingly have to break their own transfer record if they are to pursue a move for Joao Felix this summer.

Todd Boehly found himself being confronted by Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge as he saw the Blues lose once again.

Arsenal would be open to selling wonderkid Folarin Balogun but only if their £26m asking price is met.

Harry Kane was once so desperate to play for Arsenal that he offered to go in goal for the Gunners.

Feyenoord coach Arne Slot is in the frame to become Crystal Palace's next manager - but the Dutchman could have other Premier League options.


Ilkay Gundogan's agent has hit out at rumours that the midfielder is close to a move to Barcelona after his contract with Manchester City expires at the end of the season, according to reports.

Ivan Perisic wants to leave Tottenham after just one season and return to Inter Milan, reports in Italy have claimed.

Federico Valverde has insisted that he does not regret punching Alex Baena following Real Madrid's defeat by Villarreal last week.


A US investment group with assets worth more than £300bn is in the race to secure a stake in Manchester United ahead of final bids for the club.


Liverpool have stepped up their interest in Ryan Gravenberch, the 20-year-old Netherlands midfielder, as they look to press ahead quickly with plans to rebuild in midfield.


Declan Rice is a symbol of West Ham’s struggles – but just how good is he?

The captain of the relegation-threatened side is a top-class operator, and will be assessing his options this summer

By Sam Dean

Declan Rice is a player who wears his heart on his sleeve and there have been times this season when his frustration has been visible for all to see.

This has not been a happy campaign for West Ham, who planned to challenge for Europe again but are instead battling to avoid relegation, and Rice feels those pressures and pains more acutely than most.

As the academy graduate who became the club captain, Rice is widely regarded as the symbol of the team. Their difficulties are therefore seen as his difficulties, their struggles viewed as his struggles. The expectations on him are greater than on his team-mates and, when they lose, it is invariably Rice who fronts up to the cameras.

To view Rice as part of the problem, though, is to misunderstand the nature of West Ham’s season and the challenging situation in which the 24-year-old has found himself in recent months. Here is a player who unquestionably wants the best for West Ham but, at the same time, is clearly ready to play at a higher level than they can currently offer him.

No player is bigger than their club, of course, but it is increasingly hard to avoid the feeling that Rice has outgrown his current surroundings. This is largely why he is expected to leave in the summer, and why few of the club’s supporters will be genuinely angry with him if he does.

With two years remaining on his contract, and with West Ham struggling in the bottom half of the league, a natural parting of the ways is looming. After all, there is only so long that Rice can strain to drag the team forward, as if pulling them with a rope, before that rope snaps.

Against KAA Gent in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, Rice was occasionally unable to conceal his emotions. It was not an encouraging collective performance and there were moments when Rice threw his arms around in annoyance at his team-mates, who were at times operating on a different wavelength (it should be said that Rice was not at his best, either).

When it comes to Rice’s future, there are two key questions. Firstly, where will he go? Secondly, just how good is he now – and just how good can he become?

In terms of his possible destination, Arsenal are currently regarded by industry insiders as the most likely option. Mikel Arteta, who takes his league-leading team to West Ham on Sunday, is an admirer and wants to strengthen his midfield. Rice, as reported by Telegraph Sport earlier this year, is Arsenal’s top target.

They will not be the only interested club, especially as most of the ‘big six’ are hoping to bolster their midfield options in the summer. But Arsenal will almost certainly have Champions League football to offer and there is no doubt they are an appealing option, given the youth of their team and the style of their football.

Rice has starred in the Premier League for half a decade now, and has been a fundamental part of England’s team in recent tournaments, yet he does have his critics.

In recent weeks, both Graeme Souness and Roy Keane have been brutal in their assessments. Keane said Rice “needs to do a lot more” and highlighted his lack of goals and assists.

Are these criticisms justified? Well, in terms of Rice’s output in the final third, it is hard to argue. In 196 appearances in the Premier League (a handful of them were as a centre-back) Rice has scored eight goals and registered 10 assists. Even though he is primarily a defensive-minded midfielder, it is not a particularly impressive return.

But in so many other areas, Rice has consistently proven himself to be a genuinely top-class operator. His reading of the game is superb, so much so that he has made more interceptions than any other midfield player in the division since the start of last season.

In that time, only two midfielders (John McGinn and Christian Norgaard) have made more tackles and only one (Manchester City’s Rodri) has carried the ball forward more frequently. Rice is powerful, mobile and intelligent enough to end an opposition move before starting one of his own.

He is also durable, playing a total of 5,788 minutes in the league since the start of 2021-22 (the third highest of any midfielder) and making 50 appearances for his club last season.

On the ball he is a precise passer, with the fourth-best passing accuracy of any midfielder over the last two seasons, while only Rodri and Tottenham Hotspur’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have completed more passes.

A view held by many regular observers of Rice at West Ham is that he will go to another level, especially offensively, at a more adventurous side. With England, for example, he has thrived when playing alongside more illustrious team-mates.

From Arsenal’s perspective, the prospect of Rice’s energy on the pitch is an exciting one. Arteta has converted Granit Xhaka into an effective box-to-box midfielder and it would be reasonable to expect him to do the same with Rice, should Arsenal be able to secure a deal this summer.

There are doubts in some quarters about Rice’s awareness on the ball and his ability to squirm out of tight spaces. The counter-argument is that West Ham’s style does not require him to build the play in the same way as a midfielder such as Rodri or Thomas Partey, so it is therefore hard to truly know how he could handle these demands.

What is clear is that Rice has established himself as West Ham’s best player and leader, and that he has developed into one of the division’s most dominant midfielders. The time for him to spread his wings will soon arrive but, in the meantime, he can only focus on the present. West Ham need him now more than ever, starting on Sunday against the team who might just represent his future.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mickey Rat 1:19 Mon Apr 17
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Souness & Keane are just bitter old men, and I should know! :-)

gph 7:44 Sun Apr 16
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
If Souness and Keane are the most knowledgeable pundits they can find to criticise Rice, then that is a triumph for him

Thanks, Alan

Banjo 12:37 Sun Apr 16
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Mex Martillo 12:35 Sun Apr 16

Mex Martillo 12:35 Sun Apr 16
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan 12:25 Sun Apr 16

Thanks Alan 12:25 Sun Apr 16
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

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