David Moyes must have a plan in place to strengthen his midfield in the summer transfer window after Mark Noble was tipped to quit West Ham United at the end of the season.
While speaking with Football Insider, former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan claimed that the 2020/21 season could be Noble’s last at the London Stadium.
Whelan believes the £4m-rated veteran will still have the fire in his belly to go out and cut it elsewhere, as Noble will not want to see his playing career end on a whimper.
Moyes has awarded Noble starting roles in just three of the Hammers’ 23 Premier League fixtures thus far this term, while handing him a further nine outings from the bench for a total of only 279 minutes.
Ben Johnson (143) and Jesse Lingard (180) are the only outfield players currently at West Ham to have featured in the top-flight less often than Noble this season, but Whelan doubts the 33-year-old is ready to throw in the towel.
“He loves the club, he’s West Ham through and through but I think everyone will understand that if it’s his last year and he’s coming to the back end of his career, he needs to be playing and enjoying it, make the most of it and squeezing every last bit of juice out of the game that he’s got,” said Whelan.
“He doesn’t want to finish just being at West Ham and being a bit-part player, that’s not how people want to end their relationship with a club. I’m sure that he feels he’s got enough left in him to go and play another couple of seasons somewhere and be successful somewhere.
“He’ll still have that desire and appetite for the game, and I think it might be a farewell for him at the end of the season.”
Noble is nearing the end of his current West Ham contract, with his £50,000-per-week terms due to expire in the summer. So, Moyes will need to have a Plan-B in place in case the midfielder decides to leave the London Stadium, to either hang up his boots or wear a jersey that’s not claret and blue next season.
It has been no surprise to see Noble struggle to get on the field for Premier League games this season, with Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek both performing at superb levels in the two deep-lying roles of Moyes’ midfield.
Their efforts have left Noble forced to rely on a drop off in form from Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals or Manuel Lanzini to earn his three starts in the attacking role, and his chances have only gotten slimmer with the addition of Lingard on loan from Manchester United.
But Moyes cannot simply wave Noble goodbye at the end of the season, as the 33-year-old is currently his only senior depth behind Rice and Soucek, who – along with Aaron Cresswell – are the only Irons players to feature for all 2,070 minutes of regular time in the top-flight this term.
It is vital that Moyes and his recruitment team spend the coming months working with West Ham’s scouts to source a replacement, as well as a striker to fill Sebastien Haller’s void, as he could be despairingly thin of options next season in a campaign that may yet include European football.
AND in other news, West Ham are willing to take a £19m hit to offload an £85k-p/w flop…