West Ham United are at the front of the queue to sign Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes as the club plot another European campaign.
The Europa Conference League success means West Ham have qualified for next season’s Europa League and has given the club a boost in the transfer window.
Barnes, who scored 13 Premier League goals despite Leicester’s relegation, is one of West Ham’s top targets and, currently, the London club are ahead of their rivals in the race to sign him.
Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United are interested in Barnes but West Ham have made the most serious move so far and are expected to open negotiations with Leicester now their season is over.
Leicester are thought to value Barnes at around £40 million but relegation means that figure is expected to drop with West Ham likely to start the bidding closer to £30 million.
The fact West Ham will have money to spend from Rice’s sale and Europa League football makes them an attractive proposition to targets.
And they can steal a march of their rivals for Barnes by making an early move. The 25-year-old is on a list of options Villa will consider, while Tottenham must formalise their plans with new head coach Ange Postecoglou and Newcastle have a number of targets and want to sell Allan Saint-Maximin.
This season’s League haul of 13 goals was the best of Barnes’ career and only one less than Bukayo Saka scored for Arsenal in their title bid. In total, he has netted 45 goals in 187 appearances for Leicester, with Saka on 38 in 179 Arsenal games.
Replacing Rice will be the biggest task facing West Ham, with Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse another player that is admired, along with Kalvin Phillips, but he has indicated a desire to remain at Manchester City.