25 December 2022

Open Letter to Declan Ahead of his Emirates Audition...

Hey, Dec (can I call you Dec?)
We've flirted with each other, haven't we? You were coy a year or so ago, encouraging us to go after Yves Bissouma and ultimately staying at West Ham, and why not? Moyes guided you lot to a seventh place finish, good enough to qualify for the Europa League Conference (congratulations on winning the group, by the way). However, the Prem campaign has...failed to impress. I hope this isn't impolite to bring up, but you're just a point from the drop-zone. That's gotta be a more than a bit frustrating. Still, y'all have only conceded 17 goals, level with such luminaries as Liverpool and Chelsea and stingier than Man U or Tottenham. We know you've been a big part of that.
We also know you're one of the youngest members of one of the oldest squads in the Prem. We know also that you must be frustrated as you watch your Three Lions mates ply their trades at bigger clubs with better chances at silverware, Europa League Conference be hanged. Last summer, we might have seen you as a competitor or even an upgrade on Thomas Partey. At the time, after all, you were playing a deeper CDM-type role, but you've moved to more of a box-to-box role of late. This may have something to do with the trouble West Ham have with scoring. Despite that impressive goals-conceded record, your club still has a negative goal difference.

There's a whiff of desperation rather than strategy to the fact that you're among the league-leaders for shot-distance (25.5 yards per shot, Dec?). Even if you've taken most of these shots from that deeper position, you've scored just the once. It might be time to rein yourself in just a little and focus on what you do best. You're more of a defender and destroyer than you are a scorer. That works. We're accepting applications to eventually replace Partey, not Xhaka. It's possible that your eight-ish skills could develop over time, but what we'd be looking for is more of a 6. Then again, Moyes has you all sitting in a very deep block, whether by preference, necessity, or both, and this does push you into that deeper role. Were you to come to Arsenal, you might find yourself somewhere between those 6 and 8 roles or at least as a 6 who gets forward from time to time. 

Let's face facts. West Ham probably peaked last season, and the competition at the top is gettting fiercer. Moyes is a good enough manager to keep this squad from getting relegated, but he's shown time and time again that he's not much better than that. You might fancy a return to Chelsea. With Kante out of contract in the summer, they may even come calling, but do you want to join that hot mess? You'd be another bolt-on part to an increasingly expensive jalopy that doesn't know which direction it's going.

The big obstacle, of course, is money. Moyes said back in March 2021 that "£150 million would be the minimum, but he is not for sale. What I do know is that it means that there are only certain clubs that could even consider it." £150 million seems a bit steep even for a Prem-proven homegrown player of your potential, but there's public negotiation and private concession. West Ham face a major rebuild sooner rather than later, and you're really their most-marketable asset. I really don't see you going for £150 million. No offense. That valuation probably reflects West Ham's needs rather than your market value. Whoever it is that comes calling over the next few weeks or in the summer window, I foresee a fee closer to £70 million.

Just do your best on Boxing Day not to drive that fee up too high, yeah? Who knows? Maybe a January move is in the offing.

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