Football journalist Paul Brown has told Give Me Sport that West Ham signing James Ward-Prowse from Southampton this summer is a ‘no-brainer’.
The 28-year-old Southampton skipper has been persistently linked with a move to West Ham – most recently just last month
Journalist claims James Ward-Prowse could be West Ham bound for £40 million
Paul Brown has been discussing the 10-capped England international’s future and which club he could be playing for next season.
The football journalist tipped West Ham to be the club that JWP joins:
That’s an awful lot of money, and if the Saints dig their heels in, this should be a deal that the Hammers walk away from in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong, the 28-year-old is a very good player and has been described as the ‘Premier League’s most underrated player’ by Michael Richards (Daily Echo). However, I think we need to be more ambitious in our summer recruitment.
His free-kick and corner taking technique has been described as ‘unreal’ (Give Me Sport).
Maybe if we could pick him up for £25-30 million, it would be a deal worth pursuing.
I have to say though, I would be fairly underwhelmed if James Ward-Prowse ended up being Declan Rice’s replacement at West Ham this summer.
Why James Ward-Prowse is not making the impact he did for Southampton
He is the only Southampton outfield player to have played every minute this season and seems to fulfill every role going, from being the fittest player to taking free kicks to acting as an ambassador for the club’s foundation.
The burgeoning perception, though, is that the captain is struggling to regain his best form, which contributed to his omission from the England squad last month.
Several intangibles have played a part in his downturn in form, including Southampton’s structural problems in midfield, Oriol Romeu’s departure and the injury to Romeo Lavia, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s ‘lone No 6’.
Hasenhuttl’s tailored pressing system has precipitated change in every other position in terms of physical output and tactical demands, yet what he asks from his central midfielders remains unchanged and just as intense.
Ward-Prowse inevitably takes more of the burden than any other player. This is illustrated by his in-game and season metrics.
In the 2-1 defeat against Everton, for instance, he completed 50 more passes than his midfield partner Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Ward-Prowse is still Southampton’s metronome, with his presence accentuated without Lavia.
He has completed the most passes of any Southampton player this season (503) — nearly 100 more passes than the next-best, Mohammed Salisu. Crucially, he remains a key player in Hasenhuttl’s efforts to get the ball up the pitch.
Only Gavin Bazunu and Kyle Walker-Peters are more progressive passers of the ball than the 27-year-old. Both however play in defensively minded positions and receive the ball with play in front of them, making it easier to pass forwards.
Out of possession, Ward-Prowse is critical in ensuring one of Hasenhuttl’s key staples in the “SFC playbook” is enforced. “Angles of pressure” is when the teamaim to get multiple players from multiple angles around the opponent with the ball, suffocating their time and space.