West Ham United boss Manuel Pellegrini is a big fan of Declan Rice, who stood out last term.

Declan Rice may just have become West Ham United’s most important player, with Pedro Obiang heading towards the exit door.

The Daily Mail claims that Obiang is set to leave West Ham soon, which means that Manuel Pellegrini’s men look very short in defensive midfield.

Rice is first choice in that position, but beyond that their options look weak.

Carlos Sanchez struggled last term, and he has endured a terrible pre-season for West Ham, which has not given supporters any confidence.

The Hammers now surely need the £50 million midfielder (Independent) to stay fit, otherwise they could be in big trouble.

West Ham do not seem to have any other player in their squad who can perform Rice’s function in their team to anywhere near his standard.

West Ham have plenty of options in the forward positions, and even in defence they look relatively well covered.

However, if Rice is unavailable for any reason this season then West Ham could be in huge trouble.

There is, of course, still time for West Ham to bring in a new defensive midfielder – but they face a race against time to do that now.

And Pellegrini will need to wrap Rice up in cotton wool this season, as he is going to be so pivotal to the Hammers’ chances.

In other news, Sutton names player Celtic absolutely can't sign, doesn't want him 'anywhere near' Paradise