By Peter Lynch

26th May, 2023 | 7:40am

West Ham United must up fee for Fulham star Joao Palhinha, ace miles ahead of Declan Rice in one key area

West Ham ace Declan Rice looks certain to be heavily involved in a lengthy transfer battle this summer, with the midfielder seemingly having his pick from several exciting destinations.

The Hammers seem destined to lose their captain fantastic, meaning they will have already been scouring the industry for a ready-made replacement.

While it will be impossible to completely fill Rice’s boots, it is likely that Fulham ace Joao Palhinha is capable of doing a fine job.

The Cottagers star only moved to West London last summer, but the Hammers are now keen on services after his impressive debut campaign in England, according to The Sun.

It has been claimed by the newspaper that Fulham could listen to offers of around £50million for their midfield maestro, but that West Ham are currently only willing to offer £40million for his services.

It’s definitely a bold move from the Hammers, who could quickly find themselves out of the running for Palhinha if they undervalue him, with the 27-year-old set to attract interest from elsewhere in the Premier League.

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West Ham will need a tough tackler to fill the void left by Rice, and Palhinha definitely fits the bill, with the Fulham man miles ahead at the top of the list for most tackles made this season.

According to the official Premier League website, the Portugal international has made 144 tackles this season, well ahead of Brighton’s Moises Caicedo in second on 100. Rice meanwhile sits ninth with 79.

The East London outfit will seriously miss star midfielder Rice, and given how they will gain a huge fee for his sale, it would be wise to use a large chunk of it on a talented and capable replacement such as Palhinha.

Both the Fulham battler and West Ham ace Rice look set to be highly sought-after in the upcoming summer transfer window, but where they end up remains a mystery.