David Moyes must push West Ham United to agree to new contracts with both Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek amid doubts about the midfield stars’ long-term futures at the London Stadium.
That’s the view of Jason Cundy, who has told talkSPORT (9/3, 09:00) that he expects interest to emerge in the upcoming summer transfer market due to their sensational form.
Rice and Soucek, along with Aaron Cresswell, are the only Irons players to have featured for every minute of the Premier League season so far, with 100% appearance records to their names after 27 games.
The pair’s fast-established relationship in the year following Soucek’s initial loan switch, before a £19m move from Slavia Prague in the off-season, has them dictating the Hammers’ game plan from the engine room and leading a Champions League qualification charge.
West Ham sit just a point outside of the top-four after beating Leeds United 2-0 on Monday, but hold what may be a crucial game in hand over Chelsea. And Cundy expects UEFA football could be the Irons’ only hope of keeping Soucek and Rice this summer.
“They are going to struggle to hold on to them, the two midfielders,” the former Tottenham defender said. “If big-money bids come in, West Ham will possibly – unless they are in the Champions League – find it hard to hold on to them because huge money is going to come in for those two.
“Soucek has been brilliant; there is not a lot he can’t do! He can win the ball, he scores goals, he’s good in the air, he’s defensively solid… all round, they’ve got a little bit of everything, Rice and Soucek.
“They’re possibly the best two in the country, the best midfield partnership. If there’s anyone out there better than those two, there ain’t many better than them.”
As well as being mainstays of Moyes’ plans, Soucek is West Ham’s top-scorer in the Premier League this season with eight goals, while Rice is the on-field general in the absence of captain Mark Noble.
West Ham will surely be able to hold firm in demanding vastly lucrative sums for Soucek and Rice at the end of the season, having rebuffed Chelsea’s advances for the latter last summer with an £80m asking price when Frank Lampard sought to land the England international.
Moyes has even stated recently that he believes Rice is now worth “far, far more than £100m,” which is the valuation slapped on the former Blues trainee by the Irons’ owners amid alleged approaches from Manchester United and Liverpool to his agent.
But Moyes stating publicly how highly he is worth could see Rice grow unhappy with still being on the same £60,000-per-week contract struck back in December 2018, before claims emerged in The Sun last October of a £120k-p/w deal being likely after Lampard’s advances.
It was thought Rice was due to be rewarded with a double-your-money pay rise as recognition of his standing at the London Stadium, and a similar sentiment was touted for Soucek in December amid claims of interest from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
Rice and Soucek’s partnership and importance at the London Stadium has only continued to grow with almost every fixture, to see them lauded for tirelessly running Leeds into the ground on Monday and adding a sense of calm into the occasional chaos.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher had also claimed there is no better box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League than Soucek before the Whites visited east London.
“When we’re talking about box-to-box midfielders, there’s nobody better in the Premier League right now than Soucek,” he said on Sky Sports, via quotes by talkSPORT.
“The goals stand out massively – that is huge for a midfield player and is a big reason why West Ham are where they are.
“Aerial duels won is just off the scale. No midfielder in the last ten years has managed that many… since Marouane Fellaini!”
Soucek, who currently earns £67k-p/w, has won (155) and contested (258) more aerial duels than any other player in the top-flight this term and he – plus Rice – will surely need new contracts offered if Moyes is to keep both at West Ham beyond the end of the season.
AND in other news, West Ham eye summer swoop for £35k-p/w gem with “boundless energy”…