For the latest from the pitch sign up for our football newsletter
West Ham are on borrowed time with Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice unless they splash the cash in the next transfer window.
And they know it.
Hammers boss David Moyes has badly needed reinforcements up front and in defence for the last two windows.
But January came and went without a single signing, leaving them right up against it in the race for the top four.
Many Hammers fans believe that was a huge missed opportunity as this season represents a once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity.
Manchester United, Tottenham and at times Arsenal have all struggled to find consistent form.
But West Ham have failed to add the additional firepower and defensive cover they needed to take advantage and really shoot for the Champions League.
Because make no mistake, that is where Bowen and Rice want to be playing.
Of course, the Hammers have another route into European football's top club competition via the Europa League.
But the squad is stretched, and as Rice pointed out after their narrow 1-0 win at home to Watford, it's being carried by Bowen.
Rice said: "Without his goals we’d be struggling. He’s really stepped it up. His goals and assists – he’s a really top player and he’s going to be a star."
Bowen was sensational in that game, scoring the winner for his 11th goal in 34 games in all competitions. He also has 10 assists.
Those are numbers that have been noticed by Liverpool, but they are unlikely to be the only club bidding for him if he carries on like this.
An England call-up beckons for the former Hull forward, who is in the form of his life – and that would only raise his profile even higher.
Moyes spoke only recently of how Bowen can learn from the likes of Liverpool star Mo Salah about when to slow his game down, and when to turn on the jets.
And he showed he is a quick learner against Watford, twice beating his marker down the line with a blistering change of pace before creating a chance with his cross.
But it isn't just Bowen who is drawing attention; Rice has long been on the radar of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City.
Can West Ham keep Bowen and Rice this summer? Make your prediction in the comments section.
And he too is in the form of his life, running games from midfield but also adding important goals, with the pair both scoring in West Ham's extra-time FA Cup win at Kidderminster.
Team-mate Tomas Soucek said: "Declan showed in the last game that he can score important goals as well.
"He’s a great player and, like Jarrod now, he’s in great form. We are happy that we have Jarrod because he’s a good guy and a good player.
“He shows us every day at Rush Green, the training ground, and also he transfers it to the games. He’s an important player."
But after the Cup game Kidderminster defender Alex Penny, who played with Bowen at Hull, summed up the fears of many Hammers fans when it comes to the player's future.
He said: "It is only going to be a matter of time before he is in an England shirt and then a bigger team snaps him up as well. West Ham should enjoy him while they can."
That holds true for Rice as well, who has yet to sign a new contract with the club and is valued at over £100m by the Hammers.
But if West Ham want their star pair to stick around, they have to back manager Moyes in the summer window.
There is money to spend, as Moyes himself insisted the club had made three record bids for players in January.
He also admitted it's easier to do business at the end of the season – piling the pressure on the club's board to finally get things get done.
West Ham failed with big bids for Benfica striker Darwin Nunez and Leeds and England ace Kalvin Phillips, and also had no joy bringing Atalanta's Duvan Zapata in on loan.
They cannot fail again this summer or they may as well kiss goodbye to their two big stars – and their future.
- West Ham FC
- Chelsea FC
- Liverpool FC
- Manchester United FC
Source: Read Full Article