Premier League stalwart David James has offered some advice to West Ham United duo Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen ahead of what could be a pivotal summer for both of them.
Rice and Bowen were the standout stars in David Moyes' side as they secured an impressive seventh-place Premier League finish and came to within touching distance of the Europa League final, but with the vultures beginning to circle the Hammers will do well to hold on to both players this window. James, who spent three seasons between the sticks at West Ham during the early 00s, has urged Rice to snub Manchester United and join Manchester City instead, insisting that the England international could slot in as Fernandinho's replacement.
"The way Declan Rice plays, he could play Fernandinho’s role at Man City. If he had a choice of Man City or Man United, it’s a no-brainer, you go to Man City," James said speaking to Genting Casino. "He’s a fantastic player … he ticks all the boxes for a team challenging for titles as opposed to one challenging for Europa League spots."
The former England goalkeeper also suggested that Bowen, who has been heavily linked with Liverpool, needs to prove he isn't a one-season wonder before joining a title-challenging side.
"If Bowen is a legitimate target for this summer’s transfer window then that would be questionable, but if he was to continue this kind of form, then I’m sure Liverpool will keep tabs on him," the 51-year-old said. "Like the signing of Diaz, he wasn’t the first name on people's radar. He’s come in, proved he’s a Liverpool player and then they go and get the signing."
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James also insisted that Erling Haaland needs to "considerably improve" in order to be success at Manchester City next season, suggesting the massive Norwegian might need a little time to adapt to the rigours of Guardiola-ball.
"You could argue Haaland will improve Man City’s situation when it comes to the Champions League. There are bits around Haaland’s performance that need to considerably improve," James said. "He’s a fantastic goalscorer, without question, but it’s the way he scores goals that needs to be improved. It’s where he scores goals that need to be improved, he scores most of his goals at home.
"He’s 21 and under Pep, you could argue he’ll become better. If he becomes better then, of course, Man City will be in a better place to win the Champions League."
And speaking of, James predicted a Liverpool victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League final and claimed that doing so would put Jurgen Klopp's men on par with Manchester United's 1999 treble-winning side, despite the fact they finished a point behind City in the league.
"There’s something about Liverpool this season," James said, "because they’ve lost three games all season, so this isn’t a side that loses.
"The similarity [between Liverpool and Man Utd's treble winners] would be the belief that these teams have got, the belief that they were never beaten, the belief that they had the quality and skill to win games when everyone thought they’d lose … if Liverpool beat Real Madrid then they’d both be on the same pedestal."
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