In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including Declan Rice’s West Ham future, which Manchester club will win the race for Barcelona’s Frankie De Jong and what has gone wrong for Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea.
West Ham could turn losing Declan Rice into a positive
West Ham unfortunately crashed out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage on Thursday evening after losing 3-1 on aggregate to Eintracht Frankfurt over two legs.
Should the club fail to qualify for either of Europe’s two biggest competitions next season, I wonder what this could mean for their best players. Could the Hammers lose significant first-team players this summer?
Well, Declan Rice is the obvious one. Manchester United and Chelsea and I think even the Spanish giants have been talked about in the press, so the clear answer is yes.
I remember as a player when I was at Nottingham Forest, we finished third in the Premier League after being promoted from the Championship the season before and I went to Liverpool. The Forest fans didn’t forgive me for a long time, but I went to Liverpool because they had the resources to be able to compete. If you believe in yourself as a player, then you’re always looking to win and compete for trophies.
I feel for West Ham, but I do think they will now have four or five players who will say ‘we’ve just played Eintracht Frankfurt in a Europa League semi-final across two legs, both with incredible atmospheres and I want more of that ‘.
So I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their better players weren’t picked off this summer. However, West Ham’s ownership will probably want to ensure that the manager doesn’t lose the bulk of the squad. They could even extend David Moyes’ contract to promote stability but let Rice go for £100m, maybe more, and then reinvest it to keep the club moving forward – that’s what I would do because to go to the next level, what West Ham really need is a deeper squad.
Man City have edge over Man United for Barcelona’s Frankie De Jong
Barcelona’s Frankie De Jong is a really interesting one. He is believed to be wanted by both Manchester clubs.
As a player, you always want to go somewhere that you feel wanted and somewhere you feel you can continue to develop as well as the place where you get the best contract – that is just a fact. Professional athletes want to go where they can be rewarded.
The biggest driving factor in a player’s transfer decision is getting the contract they want. Often clubs will pay players beyond their expectations so that the player can just get on with their football. Manchester City does this exceptionally well whereas United, not so much.
United have spent so long bothering with piano promos for the likes of Alexis Sanchez and hip-hop-style unveilings for Paul Pogba when their rivals have just quietly gone about their business. For example, when they extended Kevin De Bruyne’s contract, all they put out was a simple, no-nonsense, statement on Twitter confirming the news. No fuss and no drama.
When it comes to De Jong, should he join City, he is likely to be on incredible wages, £500,000-per week, perhaps even north of £600,000-per-week when you factor in bonuses. The idea would be to pay him enough that there would be no complaints whatsoever so that he can just get on with his football and play to the best of his ability.
From a United perspective – what do the Red Devils offer him? – Well, he would have a manager he is familiar with and the wages wouldn’t be a problem because the club fritter money away like you wouldn’t believe. Personally, I would join the older, larger club with the richest history but younger players nowadays are different.
If De Jong wants to win trophies in the short term, he’ll go to Manchester City. However, it could be very tempting for him to consider United, especially if Erik Ten Hag did sign Rice from West Ham in the summer and then started next season very well.
But, I think realistically, if De Jong were to leave Barcelona, he is going to want to win trophies. The fact money wouldn’t be an issue either and he’d have a chance to work with Pep Guardiola too, that, in my opinion, would probably make the Citizens slight favourites.
Man United should put every player up for sale
I love Marcus Rashford. I remember spring 2020 and there was a real big cross over between football and politics and Rashford stepped up to the plate – literally.
I remember at the time writing about him and questioning whether or not he could split his time across his political endeavors and football and be as focused as you need to be on your main talent. Sadly, I don’t think he’s developed at all.
I think Rashford now needs to fly the nest, so that’s one player who should go. Anthony Martial is another. He’s been in and out of the squad for several seasons. I was there when he scored against Liverpool on his debut and thought ‘wow, this is a star in the making’ but it just hasn’t happened for him.
In terms of their midfield, Scott McTominay is the kind of player you’d keep around for squad purposes, but he still isn’t at the level that a Fabinho or a Fernandinho or a Thiago is at. I’m not convinced Ten Hag will see him as a regular first-team.
Then there is Harry Maguire – can he come back from what has been a damaging campaign? – I’m not so sure.
I’m not sure United fans will have him anymore. They look to the likes of Aymeric Laporte and Virgil Van Dijk and question if Maguire will ever be at that level.
In between the sticks, United obviously have David De Gea. Great goalkeeper and has been for such a long time, but a title-winner keeper now? – Again, not so sure.
So If I were Ten Hag, I would start with everyone being up for sale because in terms of a squad rebuild, who will the new manager look to build his team around? – He will look for honesty, hard work and integrity.
Jadon Sancho certainly deserves to be looked at seriously by Ten Hag – we all know what he is capable of when fully fit and firing but what would his overall team look like? He is likely to play 4-3-3 with a high tempo. How many current United players can already fit that system? – Not many.
I think their rebuild is such a big job that they will have to go nuclear and just say ‘everybody is for sale’ – they’ll always find buyers simply because they’re United. They should get rid of as many players as they can and then allow Ten Hag to rebuild from a much smaller core and base.
So with regards to who they should be signing this summer, the real question fans need to be asking is who they should be keeping.
Romelu Lukaku made mistake re-joining Chelsea
This season has been one to forget for Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku and it’s been really disappointing because he is actually one of my favorite players.
If I’m honest, I was surprised he went back there because I remember him getting hammered when he missed a penalty in a Super Cup final. He got a lot of stick from Chelsea fans and left after that but sometimes you can be offered so much money that it skews your thought process.
He went to Inter Milan from United and it looked like he’d finally found a home. If I could say this to any player, I would say that there is always a balance between top-level money and you knowing where you need to be in order to get the best out of yourself.
Lukaku was enjoying life at Inter Milan and working incredibly well under Antonio Conte – so just stay.
Despite him coming in and getting off to a decent start, it is still a terrible fit and we’re seeing this now.
Lukaku is a lesson to any player who is happy at a club, competing for trophies, working towards legendary status and then gets blindsided by money.