Okay, so that might be a mild exaggeration. However, at the rate this Zeno’s Paradox of a transfer goes, we’ve almost overtaken the Moyesian tortoise. Remember way back when Moyes insisted that Rice would not be sold for anything less than £120m? With that in mind, it should come as no surprise then that West Ham have rejected our second offer, reportedly £75m plus £15m in add-ons as “too many installments”. Still, we’re inching closer.
West Ham’s position has, um, “evolved” considerably. After initially insisting on that £120m, fee, they are now “holding out” (The Guardian‘s words) for £100m. Their rejection of our most-recent £90m bid, however, seems based on more on the timing and scheduling of the payments rather than on the size of the fee itself. That “too many installments” line comes from the anonymous ExWHUEmployee source, who has been spot-on of late. The Hammers’ current position seems to have been reduced to them insisting on a larger up-front payment followed by a quicker series of payments rather than amortising the fee across the length of Rice’s new contract. In other words, they’re now negotiating from a weakened position.
That weakened position seems to have been undermined by Rice’s time on international duty during which he fraternised with Saka and Ramsdale and reiterated his desire to stay in London to play Champions League football. That leaves West Ham in a dilly of a pickle as there’s only one club he could be talking about there. For as much as we might want this saga to come to a quick conclusion, it seems as if time is on our side here. We’re currently looking at a chance of landing rice at a fee of some £90m, which, if my maths are correct (always a dicey premise), would mean we got him for 75% of the original demand. That would be some masterful negotiating. Even if the fee we agree on is £100m, that’s still 83% of what West Ham were insisting on when this whole saga started.
With news that they are now after Fulham’s João Palhinha and Bristol City’s Alex Scott, the writing really is on the wall here. Originally, we waited until West Ham won that Europa League Conference trophy. Then, we waited while Rice player for the Three Lions. Now, we may have to wait until West Ham finish talks with Fulham and Bristol City so that they can secure a replacement and depth for Rice. I posted yesterday about the possibility that we sign Rice before the weekend. While that might still be overly optimistic, this deal is starting to feel more and more like a fait accompli…