By Gabriel Agbonlahor

22nd Apr, 2023 | 2:47pm

West Ham told to seal 'early' James Ward-Prowse deal as permission given for move

Gabby Agbonlahor has urged West Ham to seal an early-window deal for Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse in order to beat off competition from the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham.

The former Aston Villa striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 28-year-old could be key in replacing Declan Rice this summer.

According to talkSPORT (18 April), Newcastle and West Ham are interested in signing Southampton captain Ward-Prowse this summer.

Sources told Football Insider on Wednesday (19 April) that Tottenham are also keen on the England international – who will be given permission to leave St Mary’s Stadium if the Saints are relegated.

Ward-Prowse, whose current contract is set to expire in June 2026, has played every minute in the Premier League this season – notching seven goals and two assists.

Rice is widely expected to leave West Ham in the off-season with a host of elite English sides interested – including Chelsea and Arsenal.

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When asked if Ward-Prowse alongside another top midfielder would be an adequate replacement for the Irons captain, Agbonlahor told Football Insider’s Ewan Kingsbury: “Yeah, I do.

“Obviously Ward-Prowse can’t do what Rice does, in terms of running with the ball and driving with it – but he’s a top midfielder.

“He’s not going to go and play Championship football, no matter how much he loves Southampton.

“I think there’ll be a lot of teams after him. He’d suit Spurs, he’d suit Newcastle, he’d suit Villa.

“West Ham have got to get in there before these other teams and try and get a deal done early in the window.”

In other news, Premier League club pull plug on Declan Rice deal – new West Ham asking price revealed.