West Ham United are now expected to make a bid for Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez, who is viewed as the top candidate to replace Declan Rice in central midfield, according to a recent report from The Daily Express.

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West Ham have identified several central midfield targets since Rice joined Arsenal in a £105m deal, including Fulham's Joao Palhinha, having now entered talks with the Cottagers over a potential deal for the Portugal international.

The Hammers are hoping to agree a deal for a fee in the region of £40m, however if they are unable to sign the 28-year-old, they do have two other key targets to choose from, with Denis Zakaria and Alvarez emerging as leading contenders to replace Rice.

At the beginning of July, club insider ExWHUemployee said: “Another position we will look to fill is a defensive midfielder replacement for Rice,”

“The leading candidates expected to be: Edson Alvarez, Joao Palhinha and Denis Zakaria. All will be subjected to offers and preliminary negotiations.”

According to a report from The Daily Express, Alvarez has now emerged as the top candidate to succeed Rice in the engine room, with a formal offer for the Mexican now expected to be made in the coming days.

Ajax have recently communicated that they are open to the prospect of a sale this summer, with the Dutch club set to hold out for a fee of around £35m, an amount that West Ham would seemingly be willing to pay.

That would make the 25-year-old a more affordable option than Palhinha, with the report detailing that Fulham are likely to quote upwards of £50m for the Portuguese midfielder.

How good is Edson Alvarez?

There is evidence that the Mexico international could be a solid replacement for Rice, with BBC Sport's Simon Stone recently saying: "It is easy to see why the Ajax man might be viewed as a Rice replacement. He sits in front of the defence and tidies up in the same unfussy manner as the £100m England star.

"He is calm in possession, able to take control in tight spaces and, crucially, spots danger and has the speed to react."

Hailed as "sensational" by members of the media, the Ajax star is particularly adept defensively, ranking in the 99th percentile for clearances and aerials won per 90 over the past year, when compared to his positional peers playing at a similar level.


Not only that, the maestro is also very comfortable in possession of the ball, ranking in the 95th percentile for his pass-completion rate per 90 over the same time period.

Last season, the 6 foot 2 midfielder achieved an average match rating of 7.29 in the Eredivisie, the fourth-highest figure in the Ajax squad, indicating he is now ready to test himself at a higher level.

Given his range of qualities, £35m sounds like a fair price for Alvarez, and he could end up being a solid replacement for Rice ahead of West Ham's return to the Europa League next season.