Exclusive: West Ham primed to replace superstar with shock Man City signing

Man City trio Riyad Mahrez, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish

TEAMtalk has learned a shock Man City exit is possible this summer, and a blockbuster sale makes West Ham the likeliest team to pounce.

The Athletic previously reported West Ham are internally resigned to losing Declan Rice this summer. The 24-year-old has made no secret of his desire to test himself in the Champions League. Try as they might, that’s not a demand the Hammers are likely to satisfy any time soon.

Rice has rejected multiple contract extensions and as such, a sale this summer to ensure West Ham can extract maximum value is on the cards. Arsenal and Chelsea are the two clubs showing the greatest interest in Rice.

In the event West Ham do sell their captain, the void in David Moyes’ midfield must be filled.

On that front, trusted reporter Ben Jacobs added weight to the growing speculation Man City’s Kalvin Phillips could plug the gap.

The former Leeds Utd favourite was a £42m signing for Man City just last summer. However, fitness issues and the imperious form of Rodri has limited Phillips to a measly 56 minutes of Premier League action.

Many a City signing has taken a good 12 months to truly bed in under Pep Guardiola. Indeed, the likes of Nathan Ake, Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish all took time to get to grips with Pep’s intricate system before ultimately becoming regular starters.

However, Jacobs exclusively told TEAMtalk there is a very real possibility City decide enough is enough and cash in on Phillips at the one-year mark.

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Phillips could go for right price

“My understanding is that Phillips himself would like to fight and try and get into the team,” said Jacobs.

“But it hasn’t been an easy transfer because when he first made the move, I think the feeling was that he’d done enough at Leeds and shown enough that Man City would be using him more regularly.

“It’s been a battle to get up to match fitness and speed and also gel into the system. We’ve seen him be a bit-part player and Phillips ultimately needs to get as fit as he can and as sharp as he can as fast as possible.

“That has been the challenge for him and then breaking into that Man City midfield is really difficult as well.

“So there is a possibility that if the right offer comes in, Man City might consider an early exit, but it’s not advanced at this point.”

On the subject of who could swoop for a player who was a regular England starter just one year ago, Jacobs pointed the finger squarely at West Ham.

West Ham “totally resigned” to Rice exit

Jacobs continued: “There’s some rumours, for example, that West Ham United are looking, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make a connection between the near certainty that Declan Rice will leave.

“West Ham are totally resigned to him going, and there’s plenty of clubs circling. So there’s nothing to suggest that that sale won’t happen over the summer to somebody, and then West Ham would need a defensive midfielder.

“But of course, they can’t move significantly before first understanding what the price is going to be for Declan Rice .

“Secondly, they need to protect their status because that type of move would not be of any remote interest to Kalvin Phillips if West Ham go down.”

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A move to West Ham would make sense if Rice departs. However, as Jacobs stated, any such deal for Phillips is in its infancy at present.

In any case, City haven’t yet given up on Phillips entirely. Jacobs added they’re still keen to assess how he adapts at the Etihad, though did double down on the claim he could be axed if they don’t like what they see.

“From City’s point of view, they still want to assess how he actually develops because he’s relatively new at the football club,” continued Jacobs.

“So it’s not a given that Kalvin Phillips will leave, but it hasn’t worked out as all parties had hoped. Up until this point, there’s still time to change the narrative but it’s not unthinkable come the summer, that he’ll exit and West Ham are one of the Premier League clubs looking.”

Jacobs concluded by noting Leicester too have shown an interest in Phillips, though whether they have the financial might to pull off a move is as yet unclear.

That is not an issue that would plague West Ham if they do sell Declan Rice.