Regardless of the division that West Ham United find themselves in next season, it seems clear that Declan Rice won’t still be at the London Stadium.
The England international has made it clear that he wants to be playing in the Champions League and has been strongly linked with a move across London to current Premier League leaders Arsenal.
The Hammers have brought in Flynn Downes and Lucas Paqueta as midfield options in the past 12 months but it seems clear that David Moyes, or whoever is in charge next season, will need a strong replacement for the influential Rice.
One man who has been linked with a move to the London Stadium in recent weeks is Lecce star Morten Hjulmand.
What is the latest on West Ham’s interest in Morten Hjulmand?
According to Italian news outlet Calciomercato.it, the 23-year-old looks destined to leave I Giallorossi this summer, while previous reports have suggested that he could leave for as little as €20m (£18m).
Could Hjulmand replace Rice?
The Danish midfielder has caught the eye in Serie A this season, contributing four assists in 21 league appearances, averaging a strong 6.92 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
Considering this is exactly the same rating averaged by Rice in the Premier League, which is the best of any player in West Ham’s squad, it seems clear the quality that Hjulmand could add at the London Stadium.
Could Hjulmand replace Declan Rice at the London Stadium?
The same website suggests that the Lecce captain excels at interceptions, tackles, aerial duels and key passes, which suggests that he could perform admirably in a similar role to Rice in West Ham’s side.
FBref also highlights the midfielder’s skillset as a defensive midfielder, ranking him in the top 15% of midfielders across Europe when it comes to assists, tackles, interceptions and clearances per 90 minutes.
After making his Serie A debut against Inter in 2022, Hjulmand earned a huge amount of praise from Danish journalist Henrik Fallesen.
“What a debut for Morten Hjulmand. He played like a tough, seasoned captain against one of Italy’s best teams.”
The fact that the former FC Copenhagen man is captaining the side at just 23, similar to Rice, suggests that he could fill the leadership void that will be left by the Englishman’s departure in the summer.
Therefore, West Ham should do all they can to bring Hjulmand to the London Stadium.