DESPITE some clubs still having 15 league games to play, it would be naïve of Premier League clubs not to be already planning for next season. Clubs like Southampton will be preparing for life in both the Championship and Premier League whereas clubs like Newcastle and Tottenham will be budgeting for playing in the Champions League and Europa League.
Teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool will always be planning to assemble a squad that is capable of challenging for the title.
Two players that will be at the top of most clubs’ wish list this summer will be Harry Kane and Declan Rice.
Both have spoken about their ambition of winning trophies and playing in elite competitions in the past, and have been subject of transfer bids from Manchester clubs if reports are to be believed. United supposedly made an offer of over €100m last summer for Rice, which was rejected by the Hammers, and it’s well known City submitted numerous bids for Kane the previous summer only to be told by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy that City’s €100m offer was well short of their €150m valuation of their captain.
However, considering Rice’s performances this season, and how he spoke about his desire to play in the Champions League while away with England during the World Cup, the Hammers captain could be available at a cut price.
I would be surprised if West Ham were able to get the €120m that they believe the England international is worth.
Perhaps Keane started a trend because Gary Neville was soon to follow his former captain’s opinion. The Sky pundit last week spoke about how clubs should only be willing to pay between €50-60m for the player.
Rice came out fighting after his side’s 4-0 defeat to Brighton last weekend.
The player questioned the expertise of those criticising him. Of course, it’s hard for any player, especially one that obviously has a very high opinion of himself, to hear negative comments. Believe it or not though, Keane and Neville are doing him a favour.
Rice wants to leave West Ham yet the stumbling block is the huge fee the Hammers are looking for. By criticising him publicly they are devaluing the player. West Ham have capitalised on the media overrating Rice and now people might start to open their eyes more and see the flaws in his game.
Now I’m not saying he’s a poor player, but he is not the finished article and is certainly not worth anywhere near €100m.
Likewise with Kane, after Spurs’ exit from the FA Cup last week, Tottenham’s realistic hopes of winning anything this campaign ended.
Kane was desperate to join City two seasons ago, and I’m sure he will be pushing for a transfer again in the summer in the hope of joining a club that can help him win a major trophy.
When you take into consideration Kane’s desire to leave, the fact he turns 30 in the summer, and that he has only a year to run in his contract, Levy may not be as stubborn to keep hold of his star were an appropriate bid to come in.
Spurs don’t have the same power they did two years ago when Kane had three years left on his contract.
Kane and Rice would be desperate for a new challenge and there would be plenty of suitors.
Rice would be perfect for Liverpool who need fresh legs in a tiring midfield. United have been touted as Kane’s destination, and he would certainly improve them, but City might still be tempted to bring the player to the Etihad stadium, and it’s more likely the England captain would win the elite trophies there quicker.
Of course, City have Erling Haaland at the club, but Kane could play alongside him as they have different strengths. Kane is better technically, and links play better, whereas Haaland likes to run in behind defences.
I would be surprised if Kane and Rice's agents are not already lining up their clients' next club.