By West Ham Zone speaking to Frank McAvennie

12th Jan, 2023 | 12:10pm

Pundit: West Ham United must use Lucas Paqueta as 'main guy' to replace Declan Rice

We’re delighted to welcome former West Ham United striker Frank McAvennie as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the London Stadium

Frank McAvennie has called on West Ham to use Lucas Paqueta as their “main guy” when Declan Rice inevitably leaves the club in the summer.

Rice looks set to leave the club for Champions League football in 2023, with a host of top clubs ready to test the Hammers’ resolve with a mega-money bid as he reaches the final two years of his contract at the club.

But rather than splashing the cash on someone else to fill that void, McAvennie feels that the Irons should give the responsibility to Paqueta after investing heavily in him last summer and let him be the man that runs the team.

“I think his best position, I think he had a great understanding with Scamacca,” he told West Ham Zone.

“I think that could be a great thing for him.

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“You know when Soucek was getting into the box and scoring goals, and Antonio was moving out of the way last year or the year before, I think Scamacca and Paqueta could match that partnership, I really do.

“With Declan, Declan is going to move at the end of the season I think. Hopefully he’ll stay, but I don’t think he will. So it’s one of those situations.

“If you had Rice sitting in there with Paqueta going forward, I think he’s the man who’s going to give it to Benrahma, Bowen, Fornals. The boys who can play.

“I’m saying that like he’s not Brazilian, that boy can play as well. But he’s a catalyst in that midfield I think. And they’ll want to build things around him because inevitably Declan is going to leave at some point. He made that clear in the World Cup. Watching people win and all that nonsense.

“It is what it is.

“I think Paqueta will be the main guy if we can keep him fit. We’ve got to keep him fit.”