Although the transfer window closed at the end of January, and Declan Rice remained a part of West Ham United’s squad, speculation remains that the English national will be leaving the London Stadium in the near future.
Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea are all known to be long-time admirers of the 23-year-old defensive midfielder, according to Football London. Still, West Ham remains adamant that the player it valued at £100m isn’t going anywhere.
Even so, it appears that the chatter around the future of Rice resurfaced when his club didn’t add to its roster in the transfer window to bolster chances of qualification for the Champions League next season. This has led to some suggestions that the Hammers’ seeming lack of ambition has opened the door for some Premier League big boys to step up their bids for Rice.
West Ham might be a big club, and one that’s on the fringe of a top-four finish, according to the latest Premier League odds at Ladbrokes. But it’s clear the club still doesn’t have the pulling power of the big six –– nor the financial clout. £100m is a large sum, but many say it would be a bargain for Rice, who has become one of England’s brightest stars since making his Hammers Premier League debut as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.
Rice came on as a late substitute on the final day of the 2016/17 season as West Ham defeated Burnley at Turf Moor, and never looked back. The following season he was a mainstay on the Hammers’ firs team, making 32 appearances in all competitions. His performances also led to a call-up to the Republic of Ireland team under Martin O’Neill; although he played in three friendlies, the lure of the three lions was too much.
Watching England reach the semi-finals in the 2018 World Cup ultimately made Rice reconsider his options, which led to his requesting a switch of allegiance to FIFA –– which then permitted him to link up with Gareth Southgate’s squad on the basis that Rice had only played in non-competitive games for Ireland. Rice made his England debut in a Euro 2020 qualifier against the Czech Republic in March 2019 and played his part in helping Southgate’s side qualify for the European Championship finals.
While he was already attracting interest from clubs in the Premier League, it was Rice’s performances at Euro 2020 that caused virtually everyone to start taking notice. Rice was a pivotal part of the English side, which unfortunately lost in its first major final in decades, against Italy. For his part, Rice played in all seven games in the tournament.
With all of the above considered, Rice is unquestionably on an upward curve; he’s just celebrated his 23rd birthday, and he’s already made over 150 appearances for West Ham. He’s the Hammers’ captain and an established international with 27 caps for his country to his name. It seems like the sky is the limit, as his development to this point has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Whoever wins the race to capture his signature is investing in one of the most promising prospects in English football in quite some time, and there’s no doubt he’s worth every penny.
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