Declan Rice hints at West Ham future as Chelsea and Manchester United target summer transfer deal

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Staying put? West Ham are in no rush to sell star man Declan Rice (AFP via Getty Images)
Staying put? West Ham are in no rush to sell star man Declan Rice (AFP via Getty Images)

Declan Rice dropped several hints that his future beyond this summer lies at West Ham as he collected the club’s Hammer of the Year award last night.

The midfielder, a long-term target for Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, spoke of the challenge of leading the club forward after Mark Noble’s retirement and being “ready to go again” in Europe following last week’s agonising Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Rice has two years left on his contract but the club have the option of an extra year beyond that, meaning they are under little pressure to sell this summer. David Moyes values the England international at £150million.

The 23-year-old has turned down three offers of improved contracts, the most recent of which would have seen him become the best-paid player in the club’s history on around £200,000-per-week.

Rice is thought to be open to a move this summer, having made clear his desire to play Champions League football, but market conditions may dictate there is no obvious landing spot for him to do so. The Hammers are also on the brink of securing a second successive season in Europe - and could yet pip Manchester United to a Europa League return.

"We've proved that we can play in big European games and our fans and our stadium have shown we can handle those big European nights, and that's what we want more of,” Rice said as he picked up the award at last night’s ceremony in London.

"I'm proud of the lads because we're not the biggest of squads, so to go week in, week out again and again and again, training and playing Thursdays and Sundays, away from home and away from families has been tough, but in the end we've had a great year and we're ready to go again.”

It was an emotional evening as the tributes began for West Ham legend Noble, who will retire at the end of the season having played more than 500 games for the club.

The Young Hammer of the Year award - won for the second time in a row by defender Ben Johnson - was renamed in Noble’s honour in recognition of the role he has played in helping the club’s young talent during the latter part of his career.

Mentor: Rice became emotional during tributes to retiring Hammers team-mate Mark Noble (Getty Images)
Mentor: Rice became emotional during tributes to retiring Hammers team-mate Mark Noble (Getty Images)

Nowhere is that more clear than in the case of Rice, who has used Noble as a mentor ever since his first-team breakthrough and wears the captain’s armband in the 35-year-old’s absence.

"To be honest, when Nobes was up on stage earlier, I was getting emotional myself and I had to put my head away from the lads because I was starting to cry and getting upset," Rice added.

"I can't describe what he has done for me. From when I walked in at 16 to when I was in the first team, training and games, I can honestly say if he wasn't here I wouldn't have done as well as I have done, on an off the pitch.

"It's going to be tough next year without him, but I know he's only one call away and he's not big time! It's been an absolute honour to play with him.”

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