With €25 million probably being the higher end of what would constitute a ‘budget’ signing, the names only get more speculative from here. However, it takes a certain type of player to marshal a newly-promoted Lecce midfield to Serie A safety despite all prior fears. In that respect, Morten Hjulmand was a key component in his side’s route to finishing 16th in the Italian top flight last term.
Most notably, he ended 2022/23 as Serie A’s undisputed number-one blocker, executing an average of 2.1 interceptions per game according to Whoscored. Additionally, his average of 2.6 tackles per game was the sixth-best overall, making it all the less surprising that Italian heavyweights AC Milan and Lazio are currently being linked to the Dane.
West Ham is also reportedly interested in Hjulmand with Rice’s departure seemingly imminent, and as reflected on Green Street Hammers some months ago, his main role is that of a central-focused mezzala to aid the transition of play, which makes him an ideal candidate for the holding midfield role.
The Danish midfielder’s ability to react to opposition counter-attacks was certainly an asset in terms of Lecce grinding out results last term. Indeed, six of their eight wins came by just a single-goal margin, while half of their league victories also saw a clean sheet. And while his somewhat poor disciplinary record was still chequered in the second half of 2022/23, the Dane has avoided suspension since early January.