So, Declan, we’ve been at this a while, haven’t we? There was a glimmer of a chance of you joining us back in January—a far-fetched one, but a chance nonetheless. Now that West Ham look are safe from relegation, you lot can focus on winning that European Conference League. To you I say, ádh mór, a chairde! Oh. You’re not Irish anymore. Still, I hope you and your current squad bring home the trophy. On another note, I’ve noticed that a few mangy curs have come sniffin’ ’round. Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas, Dec.
Apparently, you’ve attracted interest from Chelsea, Man U, and Man City. Flattering, I’m sure, but I’m here to tell you that your best best is to ignore each member of that unholy triumvirate. I’m not here to insist that you join the Arsenal (yes, I am). I’m only here to recommend that you ignore the entreaties of these sordid suitors. Let’s give each one a look, shall we? You might want to hold your nose. Seriously. Literally.
Does the number 115 ring any bells? It should. That’s the number of charges Man City face for financial violations. If Juve offer any example, the FA will deduct so many points from Man City that they’ll be relegated. If there’s any real justice, City would forfeit a few Prem titles. Neither is likely to happen, though. Still, the stench will linger over that club for years (in addition to the delightful melange of fish and sewage that emanates from the greater (?) Manchester area. Beyond that, consider this: join Man City, and you become just another bauble, another trinket, another hood ornament. Yes, you’ll get paid, and, yes, you’ll have trophies added to your CV, but it will be hard to convince yourself that you’ve actually earned any of it. Maybe that’s your bag. I hope not.
Hm. They are in London, which I understand is a factor in your decision. I don’t enjoy kicking a club when it’s down (well, most of the time, anyway…). We can’t rule out the possibility that they’ll finish as high as [checks notes] eleventh. If that doesn’t boil your potatoes, you could enjoy being their 86th signing of the Boehly EraTM. Yes, they’ll need a replacement for Kanté at some point someday, and it’s likely that Pochettino will eventually figure out what to do with that bloated squad. Let’s face facts, though: they won’t have Champions League next season. If you want to leave a room-temperature mess for a hot one, I suppose Chelsea is the choice for you. Maybe they’ll even trot out the “boyhood club” line for you!
Okay, I’ll admit it: this one has me worried. Ten Hag seems to have a vision for how he wants to play, and he might just be a few players away from making that vision a reality. These other Mancs can offer Champions League football, but you might have to bide your time behind Casemiro, who’s been gobbling up plaudits deserved and otherwise for his performances this season. For as valuable as it might be to study under one of the masters of the position, taking notes on the sidelines hardly strikes me as your forté. You seem to be an all-action type with little patience for sitting around or twiddling thumbs. Looking farther afield, do you really want to be shielding Harry Maguire and David de Gea?
Between those three and your other options, Dec, I really think you have to stick or twist in the wisest of ways. Stay at West Ham, and you retire a club legend. Maybe you hoist that Europa Conference League trophy and follow in Mark Noble’s footsteps as a club legend (more on that in a minute). Maybe you hoist that same trophy and use it to bid a fond farewell to the only club you’ve played for at the professional level in order to follow in Noble’s footsteps by joining his boyhood club. That’s a twist worth considering.
Look: in the end, you have to do what’s best for your career, for your family, for your finances. You have a preciously slender window to make the most of your prodigious talents. Staying at West Ham might mean sacrificing chances at silveware and forgoing fat wage-packets but retiring a legend. Going to one of those clubs might mean selling your soul and guaranteeing silverware but becoming just another cog in the machine (that’s a Pink Floyd reference for the unwashed masses). ‘Twixt the two, you might consider a move to North London. You can fight for (and actually earn) silverware. You can mine the depths of your prodigious talents (just ask Bukayo, Ben, or Aaron how they’re feeling about their development).
All I ask is that you give it serious consideration. I hope that’s not too much…