The West Ham United fans were delighted by the progress made by Declan Rice last season, and they are hoping he will continue to grow as the club enter a new era under Manuel Pellegrini.
West Ham’s 19-year-old academy product completed his first full season as a senior player during the 2017/18 campaign in which he made 34 appearances in all-competitions as both a centre-back and a centre-midfielder. The vast majority of his performances – and certainly his best ones – arrived in defence where his excellent ability to read the game was put to good use.
Considering the progress he has made so far, it’s likely that he will become a key figure in Pellegrini’s plans for the new season, although he could face fresh competition for a starting berth according to the Daily Mirror. According to the report, West Ham are interested in signing Burnley’s James Tarkowski this summer after he completed a remarkably impressive campaign with the Clarets – earning a place on the standby list for England’s World Cup squad in the process.
The Hammers interest in Tarkowski (valued at £5.4 million by Transfermarkt) is certainly well-placed, and if they are successful in their pursuit then they could be set to hand Rice a perfect long-term centre-back partner. Burnley’s lynchpin is not only defensively assured and a physically commanding presence within their back-four, but he is also confident in possession and an effective distributor of the ball.
Rice could learn a lot from playing alongside a player of Tarkowski’s calibre, and together they could eventually establish a formidable pairing at the heart of West Ham’s defence.
Pellegrini has a huge task on his hands in attempting to transform West Ham into a Europa League contender next season, but signing Tarkowski would represent the perfect place to start on his quest for improvement.
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