David Moyes should look to revive West Ham United’s interest in Rico Henry amid reports that Southampton are keen to sign the Brentford defender this summer.
What’s the word?
According to the Evening Standard, Henry is set to be in high demand when the transfer window opens as the full-back is destined to play Premier League soccer next season.
Brentford have seen their push for top-flight soccer hit a bump in recent weeks, with Thomas Frank’s side nine points outside the automatic places after a run of four straight draws.
Henry is determined to test himself in the Premier League next season – with or without the Bees – and has a number of potential suitors considering swoops to afford him that chance.
Southampton are claimed to be heading the emerging queue as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side prepare for life after Ryan Bertrand, with the £70,000-per-week full-back yet to agree on new terms ahead of becoming a free agent this June.
Manchester City are also understood to be monitoring Henry, who Moyes had previously considered signing for West Ham.
Brentford are expected to value Henry at between £12-15m as he will have two years left on his contract in the summer, although any deal would include add-ons based on future international appearances.
Henry has been one of Brentford’s standout performers throughout their promotion chase and was an ever-present during their 21-game unbeaten run earlier in the season, but has missed the Bees’ last eight games due to a hamstring injury.
Should West Ham pursue Henry again?
While West Ham are noted to have previously shown an interest in Henry, it remains to be seen if Moyes is still a fan of the 23-year-old or if the defender will be heading for Premier League soccer with a rival club next season.
The Irons boss only walked away from his interest last year having decided to prioritise the arrival of a new centre-back, after having Henry scouted before weighing up a move for the former England U20 international, per The Athletic.
West Ham are still yet to acquire a new full-back to provide cover for Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku, but may feel the position has enough depth in Ben Johnson who has played frequently in the role this season.
But Johnson, a natural right-back, should not be the reason why Moyes allows Southampton and not West Ham to sign Henry, who many at Brentford believe is capable of becoming Gareth Southgate’s first-choice left-back for England with some Premier League experience.
Comments from Jon Whitney to The Athletic last year, a former coach at Walsall who claims Henry “lifted the crowd” through his energy at Banks’s Stadium, also give Moyes enough fuel to fire his interest again.
“His pace got him out of a lot of trouble, but he started to really get better tactically, especially with Dean [Smith], who he had a really good connection with,” Whitney said.
“He just went from strength to strength, really. The more responsibility you gave Rico, the better he got, and I think you also see that now. I think he’s become a lot more robust and resilient.”
Henry would likely already have been a top-flight defender had it not been for Ollie Watkins joining Aston Villa and Said Benrahma moving to the London Stadium last year, with the defender firmly seen as the next to be heading off Brentford’s production line.
West Ham potentially shot themselves in the foot last year, then, and must not see a repeat this summer by allowing Henry to move anywhere other than to east London.
Dubbed as “something special” by Aston Villa boss Dean Smith, the Hammers must revive a deal for Henry.
AND in other news, West Ham dodged a £32m bullet in a 2017 deal dubbed a “real coup”…