Declan Rice puts West Ham on alert: 'I want to play in the Champions League'

England star Declan Rice training with his country - Alex Pantling/Getty Images
England star Declan Rice training with his country - Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Declan Rice has signalled his intention to play in the Champions League as clubs intensify their interest in the England and West Ham United midfielder.

The 23-year-old, who has started in all of England’s Group B matches at the World Cup, says he wants to follow in the path of his international team-mates by competing for the biggest club trophies.

Chelsea have been interested in Rice, while Manchester United are long-term admirers. Other clubs among Europe’s elite would be expected to join the race for him should West Ham make him available on the transfer market.

West Ham are in no hurry to sell their captain but he also has one full season on his contract, with the option of a further year.

“One hundred per cent I want to play in the Champions League,” Rice said. “For the last two or three years I’ve been saying that. I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing. I see my friends here who are playing Champions League and for big trophies.

“You only get one career and at the end you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in. I really want to do that.”

Before refocusing on domestic football, Rice wants to give the country an early Christmas present with World Cup glory. He has seen how momentum in a major tournament can change the mood of the nation.

“I felt that during the Euros, it was obviously Covid back then so we couldn’t see anyone, friends or family,” he said. “But we saw videos of the fans back home, I feel like that is what we’ve done as a team – really brought the fans together.

“We saw the Lionesses doing it in the summer, you see the support we’ve got in the fan parks, in pubs and it makes me happy seeing videos of the fans after we’ve scored. We will try to keep going, try to lift everyone, it’s obviously really close to Christmas now so hopefully we’ll give them the best Christmas present.”