Former West Ham coach compares transfer target to Jordan Henderson amid Spurs, Newcastle links

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Former West Ham coach Stuart Pearce has likened Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse to Liverpool and England star Jordan Henderson amid continued speculation surrounding his future.

Ward-Prowse has been linked with a summer transfer away from St Mary’s, with West Ham, Spurs, Manchester United Newcastle all reported to be interested in the 27-year-old’s signature. The midfielder and free-kick specialist scored ten Premier League goals for the first time in his career during the 2021/22 season and was called into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the UEFA Nations League games this month.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has been defiant over where Ward-Prowse’s future lies. Speaking last month , the Austrian said: “He has another four years on his contract here, he is happy here and he is our captain and he is staying here. Fans love him and we know how important he is to our team.”

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But despite his manager’s firm stance on the matter, speculation over Ward-Prowse’s future remains, with Pearce – who left West Ham after two years as a first-team coach under David Moyes last month – saying he thought the midfielder had all the right tools to continue improving his game and play at the highest level.

Speaking on TalkSPORT , the former England defender said: “He’s club captain and a very intelligent lad that knows how to play the game and knows how to play sat in front of a back four or three.

“Very, very intelligent. Good legs and good energy – Ward-Prowse is a very, very talented player. Maybe with [Jordan] Henderson coming to the latter years, fitness-wise and that sort of thing, it might just open the door for him. He’s a similar type to Jordan Henderson. Fantastic captain at Southampton and his influence around the place.”

It would be a big coup if West Ham could secure the signing of Ward-Prowse this summer, though the pull of European football could help matters after the Hammers qualified for the Europa Conference League after finishing seventh in the Premier League last season.

There are also hopes from some fans that the England international could act as a natural replacement for Mark Noble, who hung up his playing boots at the end of the last campaign after making 550 appearances for West Ham across 18 years. Noble was a reliable penalty taker for the club, with popular Hammers commentator ‘Ex’ reporting that David Moyes is a big fan of Ward-Prowse.

Speaking on The West Ham Way podcast, he said: “The manager likes what he offers from set plays. Obviously, we’ve lost Noble this year, so the sort of squad penalty taker, as such, has gone. And also when [Aaron] Cresswell’s been injured, we haven’t had the same threat for free-kicks and corners and stuff.

“So I think the manager does love Ward-Prowse’s ability from set plays and obviously the fact that he’s a good all-round player anyway, an England international, so the club will pursue that. The problem is that Southampton are gonna ask a large fee for him.”

Source by Football London

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