West Ham United are reportedly ‘leading the chase’ for Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse as they ramp up their efforts to replace Declan Rice.
The Saints endured a miserable season in 2022/23 as they finished bottom in the Premier League. They ended up 11 points clear of safety.
Their youthful squad was not good enough to remain in the top flight but Ward-Prowse was their best player over the course of the season. He grabbed nine goals and four assists in the league for the Saints.
The England international is one player who will leave Southampton this summer and he was linked with Tottenham Hotspur last month.
Spurs were never going to be alone in targeting Ward-Prowse, who has proven himself in the Premier League over the past nine seasons.
The Sun are reporting that ‘Southampton are hoping to land up to £40million for captain Ward-Prowse’. He ‘still has three years left on his deal and will be in demand this summer, leading to the club’s optimistic valuation’.
West Ham are ‘leading the chase’ for the midfielder and they have ‘long tracked him’. The Hammers are also ‘keen to add Fulham’s Joao Palhinha alongside him as they look to replace Rice’. It has recently been indicated that Palhinha is valued at around £60m.
The report adds: ‘Despite the Ward-Prowse’s age, suitors still feel there is a potential resale value in any deal given his goal and assist record as well as his set-piece ability.
‘No talks have been held between Ward-Prowse and interested clubs at this stage, with the Saints academy graduate planning some time away following his final Southampton game against Liverpool on Sunday.’
Ward-Prowse got on the scoresheet as Southampton drew 4-4 with Liverpool on the final day. He received a huge ovation from supporters when he was subbed off with a couple of minutes remaining.
Speaking post-match, Ward-Prowse hinted at a summer transfer as “you never know what is going to happen in the future”.
“It is nice of course, this is a club that has meant a lot to me,” Ward-Prowse said.
“I’ve been here for 20 years and had a fantastic journey, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“You never know what is going to happen in the future.
“I come away this season with my head held high knowing I’ve done everything I can for this club, not only this year but ever since I came through the door as an eight-year-old.
“To play a part in not maintaining that Premier League status hurts me but I’m sure this club will be back in the future.”