By Jonty Banks

31st May, 2023 | 3:10pm

Southampton chief gives West Ham United green light for £40m James Ward-Prowse transfer

West Ham have been given the green light in their pursuit of James Ward-Prowse, with Southampton open to offers for the midfielder this summer.

The Saints’ 11-year stint in the Premier League came to an end this season, as Ruben Selles’ side finished rock bottom with just 25 points.

The Sun previously reported (29 May) that the Hammers are leading the chase to sign the 28-year-old, with the recently-relegated club holding out for a fee in the region of £40million.

Rasmus Ankersen, founder of Southampton owners Sport Republic and current director of football at the club, has now told The Times (30 May) that they will listen to offers for their captain this summer.

“Of course, we would love to keep him,” he said.

“He is Mr Southampton, he’s done amazing things. He will be in demand.

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“If there is something that comes up that satisfies the club financially and satisfies James, then out of respect we will have to have that conversation.”

“It would be selfish to say, ‘we have a contract’, and not fair to him,” added Dragan Solak, who has been Sport Republic’s lead investor since 2022.

“If he can play Champions League football next season, then that would be great for him. We have to see who will approach us.”

With Declan Rice likely to move on this summer, West Ham could be extremely short of options in the middle of the park before they know it. Away from the England international, the only other personnel David Moyes can call upon in midfield are Tomas Soucek, Flynn Downes or Lucas Paqueta.

A move for Ward-Prowse therefore ticks almost every box possible, and after being given the go-ahead by the Saints hierarchy, they must not hold back in their pursuit.

The Evening Standard recently reported that Moyes is an admirer of the midfielder, and considering his wealth of experience across a number of years for both club and country, it is not hard to see why.

Alongside Paqueta and Jarrod Bowen, the England international could wreak havoc upon almost any opposition defence in the Premier League.