Tomas Soucek looked well on his way to cult hero status last year when a multitude of stellar performances saw him finish the 2020/21 season as joint top goalscorer for the Irons.
The 27-year-old Czech always seemed to arrive in the box at just the right time for the Hammers, scoring a mass of important goals that propelled David Moyes’ men up to dreamland in 6th last season.
Unfortunately, having been asked to play in a deeper and more defensive role this season to allow for Declan Rice to get forward more, his impact has suffered.
An own goal against Man City on Sunday shined a light on frailties that have been exposed a lot this season.
And with West Ham now being linked to Southampton’s star midfielder James Ward Prowse (The Sun), it’s starting to look bleak for Soucek. West Ham cannot afford to be sentimental though, Ward-Prowse would take them to the next level.
The type of player that could win West Ham games on his own
James Ward-Prowse is a man of many talents and this season has been singled out for praise more than once. Garth Crooks took the time to call him ‘special’ in his weekly team of the week column for the BBC after scoring two magical free-kicks against Brighton for the Saints.
While it is his tenacity, leadership, and passing ability that makes him a vital cog in Southampton’s midfield, it is his free-kick-taking ability that wins you games. Against Brighton, he won the game on his own.
West Ham don’t have that currently in anyone other than Jarrod Bowen.
There is an argument to be made that is what Soucek can offer but with Rice thriving in his new, more advanced role, reverting back to an old style of play to try to revive him may do more harm than good.
Ward-Prowse plays in a similar, more fluid system at Southampton next to Oriol Romeu. If David Moyes can position him and Rice similarly at The London Stadium, West Ham could have one of the best midfields in the Premier League on their hands.
Forget the price, and just get it done Moyes
With a touted price of £75 million, Ward-Prowse will not come cheap.
This however is the price of proven homegrown talent and in a market where ready-made players are hard to come by, sometimes it’s best to just pay the toll.
At 27 Ward-Prowse is just entering his prime and with Declan Rice also starting to take his game up a level, David Moyes could be in possession of England’s starting midfield at some point in the near future.
Ward-Prowse was called ‘a midfielder who could get into almost any midfield in the world’ by Darren Ambrose on TalkSport and for a player with that pedigree, £75 million seems fair.
If the money is there, get it done.