RICE PRICE SHOOT

Rice price too high at £150m as Hammers seek to keep him

The Hammers are confident that no one will offer their valuation of Rice which is £150 million.

In Summary

•Both Manchester clubs are searching for midfield replacements with Matic, Mata and Pogba set to leave United in July while 37-year-old Fernandinho will call it a day at City.

•Chelsea are due to strengthen their squad in the summer with fresh owners pumping in new money but Thomas Tuchel has said they could not pay £150million.

Declan Rice during a past match
Declan Rice during a past match
Image: / REUTERS

There is a standoff at West Ham with Declan Rice refusing an offer of an eight-year contract worth £200k-a-week. Declan’s agents believe he can command almost double that with one of the big six clubs in the Premier League or in Europe.

He has now rejected three deals but my West Ham insiders told me the club will fight hard to keep him. The Hammers are confident that no one will offer their valuation of Rice which is £150 million.

Both Manchester clubs are searching for midfield replacements with Matic, Mata and Pogba set to leave United in July while 37-year-old Fernandinho will call it a day at City.

Chelsea are due to strengthen their squad in the summer with fresh owners pumping in new money but Thomas Tuchel has said they could not pay £150million.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates in a past match
Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates in a past match
Image: REUTERS

Haaland goes house-hunting in Manchester

I have just spoken with Manchester City and as I write this column, the club are preparing for the arrival of European scoring sensation Erling Haaland who will join them in July and play in their pre-season tour of America.

The 21-year-old Haaland travelled to Brussels for a medical on Monday and his agents accepted a deal worth £400k-a-week, which matches the salary of City’s top earner Kevin de Bruyne.

Erling already has his own people looking for suitable property around the Manchester area. He is very close to his parents, brother and sister and wants a home where his family can spend time with him. Dortmund have agreed on a figure of £63million to release Haaland to City.

City coach Pep Guardiola is now turning his attention towards signing a midfielder to link-up play with Rodri in the centre and whereas Paul Pogba has been mentioned, I hear from United that Juventus are pressing them quite hard to start negotiations to take the Frenchman back to Italy.

Frankie de Jong might be leaving Barcelona as the Catalan club try to reduce their wage bill to enable them more flexibility to strengthen their team in several positions for next season.

City almost signed de Jong in 2019 and his family had even viewed properties in the area but in the end, he chose Barca.

Clubs circle around Lingard

Following Ralf Rangick’s refusal to allow Jessie Lingard the chance to say goodbye to Manchester United fans, the winger’s agents immediately contacted several clubs regarding a move in June.

Newcastle and West Ham have emerged as current Premier League favourites to sign him.

However, I have discovered that Juventus, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are also showing interest. Rangnick brought on Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata who both took the opportunity to wave their goodbyes in United’s final home game whereas Lingard was left angry and upset on the bench.

Incoming coach Erik ten Hag has suggested that Jessie waits until his arrival but the 29-year-old is totally disillusioned by the treatment from his boyhood club.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates during a past match
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates during a past match
Image: FILE

Players who are relegated will earn less

I mentioned in this column last week that if Leeds are relegated, they would lose key midfielder, Kalvin Phillips.

This story has gathered pace during the week and I have learned that Leeds’ stars Raphinha and Patrick Bamford will also be walking through the exit door.

If those stars stay, they will probably suffer pay cuts because their contracts include clauses that stipulate reduced relegation salaries of between 20 and 50 percent.

**Everton are in a difficult situation as none of their players have relegation reduced salary clauses in their contracts and it is doubtful the Toffees would be able to pay their current wage bill if they go down.

**Players at Burnley do have relegation wage reduction clauses in their contracts. However, nine of the current first-team squad are out of contract at the end of the season.

Conte jokes about wish list

Antonio Conte made me laugh this week. The club has lost Oliver Skipp, Matt Doherty and Japhet Tanganga to long-term injuries and Conte is desperate to keep his remaining players fit and available.

He denied that he has given managing director Fabio Paratici and chairman Daniel Levy a summer list of players he wants to sign. He then joked that he has not prepared a list because it would be too hot to handle!

Can Frank keep Erikson at the Bees?

Christian Eriksen in action during his time at Inter Milan
Christian Eriksen in action during his time at Inter Milan
Image: FILE

Brentford manager Thomas Frank sat in his office with Christian Erikson and told him that his main priority is to keep the Danish international at the Bees for next season.

He then offered him a new deal with longer terms to replace his six-month deal which ends in June. Thomas said later, “It is very simple. I speak to him.

He is my midfield play-maker and he has done an excellent job since joining us. We are presenting our plans to him and discussing them back and forth. We’ll do everything we can to keep him and I believe we have a very good chance. I know he is happy here and is enjoying his football.”

The 30-year-old is a target for Newcastle, Manchester United, and Tottenham but Frank believes he can persuade Christian that west London is the place he should be.

Arsenal search for two new strikers

Arsenal have again made contact with Inter Milan regarding Lautaro Martinez and are offering a possible place in the Champions League next season.

Arsenal have already confirmed with me that they intend to bring in two new strikers and Martinez joins Manchester City’s Grabriel Jesus and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin on their shopping list.

Martinez would cost the Gunners £60million and this season he has scored 17 goals and totals 54 in 132 league matches and seven in 23 Champions League games. The Argentinian, called “The Bull”, is aggressive and possesses speed and versatility.

Spurs or Arsenal players are in for big bonus payments

Tottenham players will divide a £3.5million bonus payment if they qualify for the Champions League next season.

They have been promised £1m for finishing fourth in the table and £1.5million If they finish third. The money will be put into a treasure chest which rises to £3.5million during next season.

Several players also have personal extra Champions League qualification bonus payments built into their contracts. Arsenal players are due to receive £3million to be shared between them if they make the top four. 

The secret of Villa and Gerrard’s success

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard reacts during a past match
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard reacts during a past match
Image: REUTERS

I spent some of this week discussing Aston Villa’s success this season and the club believes it has resulted from manager Steven Gerrard’s clever way of setting up his teams.

He likes to vary his attacks, changing the shape of it from week to week so that the opponent coaches cannot train against what they expect Villa to do in a match.

He regularly changes his approach using a midfield diamond shape 4-2-3-1 one week but then switches to a 4-3-3 for the next game.

He has also identified his strongest attacking line-up with Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins operating as joint strikers with Philippe Coutinho playing between them as a false number 9.

**Gerrard is hoping that he can persuade Joe Gomez to join Villa in the summer but, unlike his current club Liverpool, he cannot offer him European football next season.

Eze is the new Zaha

Patrick Viera says that Eberechi Eze is going to be a big star of the future for Crystal Palace and Wilfried Zaha’s eventual successor —praise indeed! After a difficult period out of the team with an Achilles injury, he has worked hard in training and is sharper than ever according to Viera. The 23-year-old was visibly delighted with his first goal since returning during the game against Southampton last weekend. Currently, Zaha is already ahead of his seasonal scoring record with four games to go and Eze and Zaha together are a threat to any defence with strong skillful play and a thirst for goals.

**Palace are hoping they can buy back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Manchester United this summer. The 24-year-old left Palace for £45million in 2019 but has been told he can leave despite having two years left on his contract.

Dallas devastated by a broken leg

Leeds told me this week that their Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas is devastated after breaking his leg and faces a “lengthy period” out of the team. He underwent an operation last week.

He has become a fan favourite since joining in 2015 from Brentford and his 50-50 challenge with Manchester City’s Jack Grealish resulted in a femoral fracture.

Kane and Son join the elite club

Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min have joined an elite scoring group that only includes Mo Salah and Sadio Mane and way back in the 1960’s West Ham’s Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

They are the only players to have scored 30 goals together in football’s top league.

Cavani treated unfairly in my view

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani
Manchester United's Edinson Cavani
Image: FILE

Edinson Cavani is one of my favourite players and I will be sad to see him return to South America in a few weeks. Advance talks with Boca Juniors are ongoing and he will leave on a free transfer. It upsets me that he has been treated so indifferently this season.

I recognize that he has suffered injury problems but the fact that he has scored only twice compared with his 17 goals last year is, I think, United’s fault.

Cavani was promised he would be the number one striker at United and his reputation and career demanded that respect. United agreed but then signed Cristiano Ronaldo as a central striker.

The club even took away Cavani’s iconic number seven shirt and he was furious and a big showdown followed.

He has been left out in the cold for much of the season and mainly plays only late substitute roles.

To me that is a gross insult to such a great player who is brilliant at reading a game, always being in the right place at the right time and showing leadership to the younger players.

In the dressing room, he is very popular. I would never question Ronaldo’s amazing skills and record.

However, United should have got their agenda worked out before signing Cavani and certainly not treated him like a second-class citizen.