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) /
4 of 5
Leander Dendoncker, Wolves.
Leander Dendoncker, Wolves. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images) /

Leander Dendoncker

It’s a name West Ham fans will remember well as we were very close to signing the Belgium international in the 2018 January transfer window during Moyes’ first spell. Then at Anderlecht, Dendoncker had impressed scouts after playing well in all six of the Belgium sides Champions League games that season.

As a result of this Moyes was reportedly keen to bring Dendoncker to the London Stadium but a move failed to happen as West Ham didn’t offer enough money. In fact, West Ham’s offer of £4.4 million-plus a further £8.8 million in the summer was a joke considering Anderlecht wanted £20 million for their star player.

Both fans and the player were disappointed that the move failed to go ahead, with Dendoncker himself saying the move would have been ideal.

"“West Ham seemed to me, however, a nice club to take the next step in my career.” – Leander Dendoncker"

The Belgian midfielder subsequently stayed at Anderlecht and went to the 2018 World Cup in Russia where he made his World Cup debut in a 1-0 win over England. Despite remaining interested, West Ham didn’t make another move the player and as a result, Dendoncker signed for newly-promoted side Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan with an obligation to buy for €15 million.

The 25-year-old has had a good couple of years at Wolves and despite initially struggling, Dendoncker has grown into one of Nuno Espírito Santo’s key players. The Belgium international has been a reliable figure for Wolves and has picked up some impressive stats over the last couple of years. According to WhoScored, Dendoncker averaged 2.8 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 1.5 clearances per game in his first Premier League season which are impressive numbers.

His numbers have dropped this season with the midfielder averaging at 1.7 tackles, 0.7 interceptions and 1.7 clearances per game although this can be explained because Wolves as a team have struggled to replicate their previous season’s form.

Leander Dendoncker, Wolves.
Leander Dendoncker, Wolves. (Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images) /

Despite missing out on the Belgian before, West Ham should definitely go back in for Dendoncker as he would be a great replacement for Rice if the Englishman was to leave. The two players have many similarities as they can both operate as a Defensive Midfielder or as a Center back, they both like to drive forward and they are both great tacklers. He could be a perfect like for like replacement.

West Ham may just get their second chance at a Dendoncker deal this summer as Wolves are looking offload some first-team stars in an effort to raise funds to rebuild their squad after a disappointing season. Alongside Adama Traore, it has been rumoured that Dendoncker may be one of those players and West Ham should seize the opportunity to pounce.

Having permanently signed for €15 million in 2019, Wolves will want a much bigger fee for one of their key players and it is likely that the Midlands club would ask for around £30 million for the player. If that is what it takes to get a good replacement with Premier League experience, then surely West Ham would pay it?