14 Feb West Ham have reportedly named their price for prized midfielder Declan Rice
West Ham United could be prepared to sell their number-one asset this summer, providing a club meets the nine-figure asking price. The Hammers find themselves in a battle to avoid being sucked into the relegation situation, sitting just a point above the drop zone after 21 league games. Despite this, they remain a rather large 15/2 outsider for relegation to the EFL Championship with Virgin Bet. Although oddschecker states this operator regularly offers boosts to prices across major sports markets, United’s relegation odds aren’t inflated and instead reflect their significant under-performance in the first half of the season.
One of the main reasons why the bookies think West Ham will steer themselves clear of relegation troubles is the presence of Declan Rice in their midfield. The England international continues to improve in a West Ham jersey and the line of suitors for his signature is also growing.
talkSPORT presenter Jim White, who is well-connected following a lengthy spell working as a presenter for Sky Sports, has revealed West Ham rejected a £100 million bid for Rice’s services last summer. White said that Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United were spurned in their advances. However, the Scotsman said on his morning talk show, along with former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan, that it wouldn’t take much more to seal the deal this summer.
White confirmed it was his “understanding” that West Ham would be prepared to accept “£120 million plus add-ons”. White was also bullish about the fact that Manchester United weren’t the only club weighing up an offer at the end of this season. He confirmed that Chelsea and Arsenal were “still in the frame”.
After a solid 2022 World Cup with England, Rice continues to perform well on an individual level for West Ham. In their recent 1-1 draw at Newcastle, Rice dominated the midfield battle, giving the Hammers a foothold in the game to take a much needed point back to East London. That went down as a good result given the strong progress made by cash-rich Newcastle under boss Eddie Howe.
In his post-match press conference at Newcastle, West Ham boss David Moyes was purring over Rice’s performance. He described him as a “top player” during the opening 45 minutes at St. James’ Park. Fresh from Chelsea’s British transfer record deal of £107 million for Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez, Moyes added that it would be a “British transfer record” to tempt the Hammers into selling this summer.
Although these are strong words from Moyes, it’s equally true that United won’t be holding all the aces at the negotiation table in the close season. Rice’s current contract at the London Stadium will have just 12 months remaining, making it imperative for West Ham to sell this summer to avoid the potential of losing him cheaply in January 2024 or, worse still, for free in summer 2024.
Rating the likely suitors for West Ham’s Declan Rice
It’s no secret that Rice is a West London boy. Born and bred in Kingston upon Thames, Rice came through the Chelsea youth academy, playing for eight years with the Blues youth teams. It wasn’t until 2014 that he would be picked up by the Hammers following his release by the Stamford Bridge club.
Chelsea are likely to have been kicking themselves ever since. Rice has displayed a maturity beyond his years ever since making his debut in the first team in August 2017. Rice was a boyhood Chelsea fan, so there will always be a gravitational pull to the Blues. However, given their £107 million marquee signing of Enzo Fernandez in central midfield, Rice may feel like he can play a bigger role elsewhere.
Not only have United already bid £100 million for his services, but the Red Devils have been long-term admirers of Rice. In his post-match interview following West Ham’s narrow 1-0 loss at United in October, Rice said he was “inspired” by the environment of Old Trafford. Rice also spoke of the “heritage” surrounding the club, with his words deemed warm and complimentary.
There’s also a pathway for Rice into the United first team. Playing alongside the experienced Brazilian, Casemiro, Rice could provide the perfect foundation for the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Antony to play and press in the final third.
Premier League leaders Arsenal are another attractive proposition for Rice. The Gunners are reported to have made him their number-one transfer target this summer. Given how the table stands, Rice could soon receive a proposal from the soon-to-be Premier League champions. It’s also said that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has drawn up plans showcasing how the Hammers’ skipper would slot into his system.
Playing under Arteta is something that’s said to appeal to Rice according to the Guardian, having witnessed the Gunners’ transformation from perennial underachievers to genuine title contenders. Rice’s addition at the Emirates Stadium would add much-needed depth in the middle of the park, where he would be competing with the likes of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka.
It’s important not to discount Manchester City and Pep Guardiola from potential transfer interest in Declan Rice. With Bernardo Silva wanting out of City this summer and Ilkay Gundogan also a probable exit in the close season, Guardiola could target Rice as part of a rebuild of his midfield. His positional sense and poise on the ball could be the ideal foil for the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri.
The fly in the ointment for City is the potential for them to be under some form of transfer embargo this summer. The plethora of charges against the club for alleged financial irregularities are likely to be settled in the coming months, but Rice may not want to commit to a club whose future is so uncertain.
Who wouldn’t want to play in a team involving Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe? PSG could be one of the few clubs outside of the Premier League to afford West Ham’s transfer fee demands. Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech was desperate for a move to play for PSG on loan in the January transfer window and, when you consider PSG’s embarrassment of riches all over the pitch, it’s not hard to see why.
Whether Rice and his representatives would see PSG as a credible long-term career move remains to be seen. Ligue 1 lacks the competitiveness of the Premier League, although PSG could offer the chance for Rice to push for European trophies.
Whoever secures Rice’s signature will be getting a midfielder whose best years are well and truly ahead of him.