Who could West Ham’s Rice replacement be following Guardiola’s “admiration?”

Declan Rice, West Ham. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Declan Rice, West Ham. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /
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It’s the day that all West Ham fans dread and don’t want to think about but it may be coming sooner than later, following Pep Guardiola’s recent comments.

The Manchester City boss has recently praised the West Ham Midfielder, stating that the England international is a player that he admires.

"“They have fantastic players like Declan Rice. I am a big admirer of him.”"

This raises the question as to whether Guardiola’s admiration will stretch to City making a massive bid for the player. It’s a thought that no West Ham fan wants to remotely think about, however the time may be approaching when Declan Rice departs from the London Stadium.

That is unless West Ham turn into consistent European contenders which given our form this season, could very well happen.

It is said that West Ham would want no less than £100 million if they were to sell their star player this summer according to TalkSport.

It’s hard to see anyone forking out that fee, especially during the current climate. It would probably take a fee of around £80-90 million-plus Rice to hand in a transfer request for any deal to happen. But let’s just say the worst happens and Rice was to depart West Ham for £85 million, who would we replace him with?

Replacing Rice like for like is pretty much an impossible task but there are some good options out there that we should be tracking if the worst does happen.

Here are some players that I believe could be replacements for Declan Rice:

Sander Berge, Sheffield United.
Sander Berge, Sheffield United. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images) /

Sander Berge

The Norwegian midfielder has been a great addition for Sheffield United since his £22 million move from Genk in January. He’s a name will be familiar to West Ham fans as the player was heavily linked to a move to the London Stadium last January. However, a move never progressed due to the Belgium sides huge asking price.

Berge has made a great impact on Sheffield United since his arrival and he has made himself a key player for Blades despite their incredibly poor season this year. In fact, it can be argued that Sheffield United’s poor form is down to the fact that Berge has been out injured since the 17th of December.

The 23-year-old was forced off the pitch against Manchester United due to a freak injury and he isn’t scheduled to return until the 21st of March.

Before his injury, Berge was a spark in an otherwise average Sheffield United midfield and it is clear to see that the Norwegian international shares many qualities with Declan Rice. He’s energetic on the ball, doesn’t shy away from a tackle and is good in the air.

Berge could be a great option for West Ham, especially as Sheffield United are almost certainly facing relegation from the Premier League this season. As a result of this, the Hammers would be to get a better deal for the player. As Sheffield paid £22 million for the Berge, they would almost certainly want to recoup that fee while gaining a little extra.

This would likely see Berge cost any potential suitors around the £30 million mark, which given his potential, isn’t a bad deal at all. This would also allow West Ham to spend the rest of the money from the potential Rice sale, on strengthening the rest of the squad.

Overall, Berge would be a reasonably priced and reliable option for West Ham if Rice was to depart.