Former West Ham striker Carlton Cole admits that no one at the club is irreplaceable amid fears that a mega summer offer could be incoming for star midfielder Declan Rice.
Hammers boss David Moyes is currently scouring the market for more additions to his squad, with centre-back Nayef Aguerd and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola so far added to the Hammers squad.
Highly-rated Swansea City’s Flynn Downes is expected to follow. Moyes look set to snap up the midfielder ahead of Crystal Palace for a fee of around £9million plus add-ons.
And while news of a potential exit for England midfielder Rice has gone quiet of late, Manchester United and Chelsea are both said to maintain an interest in the 23-year-old.
Rice has so far turned down the offer of a new deal at the London Stadium. His current contract runs until 2024, with the option of a further year.
That scenario means the Hammers are not in a position where they need to sell their top asset. And while Cole sees Rice’s future with the club, he still thinks a huge bid coming in could change matters.
“But right now I just don’t feel it’s the right time for him to be moving on.
“I think he’s at a club where they have expectations to push on. And I think as long as he understands the project and he knows his place within the team.
“We can’t lose too many [players]. We’ve just lost Mark Noble and I think we’ve got a few others that we’ve lost now. So we have to bolster and we can’t be letting our best players go at the moment.”
Rice going nowhere, for now
West Ham currently value Rice at £150m, especially with him effectively having three years left on his contract. However, Cole thinks anyone can be replaced – for the right price.
He added: “If it does happen and someone comes in with an offer that we can’t refuse [for Rice] then it’s just the way it is.
“We’ll reshuffle the pack and nobody in that West Ham squad isn’t irreplaceable. You’ll always get a few diamonds in the rough and we have found a load of them.
“David Moyes and his scouting network is working tirelessly around the clock right now as we speak to get the best players in for any kind of role that comes up.
“But I can only see Declan Rice’s future with us, at least for the current season.”