West Ham inspired by Tottenham approach in fight for Declan Rice’s future with club still holding all the aces

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Keeping options open: Declan Rice has rejected a third new contract offer from West Ham  (Getty Images)
Keeping options open: Declan Rice has rejected a third new contract offer from West Ham (Getty Images)

It was the one time yesterday when David Moyes sounded truly confident in his answer to a question on Declan Rice’s future.

Moyes had just been asked what hope West Ham have of keeping their star man when Chelsea cannot keep hold of Antonio Rudiger.

“The difference is that he [Rudiger] is out of contract,” said Moyes. “We’ve got three-and-a-half years to go. That is the difference.”

While Rudiger is leaving Chelsea this summer, Moyes knows West Ham hold the cards when it comes to Rice, regardless of whether the England midfielder continues to snub a new deal or not.

It emerged on Friday that Rice has rejected a third contract offer from West Ham, this time turning down a £200,000-a-week deal, and is open to a transfer.

The timing is hardly helpful for West Ham, ahead of their biggest game in decades on Thursday, when they host Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

Rice has never agitated to leave and has always remained committed, but it is clear he does not want to tie himself down to a long-term deal at the London Stadium.

The 23-year-old will have two years left on his contract at the end of this season, with West Ham holding the option of a third year. That means, just like with Tottenham and Harry Kane last summer, the club are in control.

Pep Guardiola revealed earlier this year that Daniel Levy knocked back four offers for Kane from Manchester City after the England captain had made a very public push to leave.

Rice has done no such thing, but Moyes has taken inspiration from Tottenham’s approach, and West Ham have told Rice they will reject all offers for him this summer.

The Hammers have taken inspiration from Tottenham’s approach to Harry Kane’s future (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
The Hammers have taken inspiration from Tottenham’s approach to Harry Kane’s future (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea and Manchester United hold long-term interest, but both feel Moyes’s £150million valuation of the player is too high — and both have more pressing issues to address.

The new owners at Chelsea will need to construct a new defence, while Manchester United are in need of a complete overhaul once Erik ten Hag takes over.

The future at West Ham, however, is rather more clear. Rice dreams of playing Champions League football next season, something he can still achieve with the Hammers.

Get past Frankfurt over two legs and West Ham, having been in a relegation scrap two years ago, will be one win away from Europe’s top table.

Moyes is confident West Ham can match Rice’s ambition, but it is time to start showing it. Given Rice’s contract situation, manager Moyes is correct that the power is in the favour of the club for now, but it will not last for long. This summer is the time to take advantage of that power and show Rice that he can realise his ambition in claret and blue.

West Ham must work to build a team around Rice which can compete at the highest level

Signings such as Kurt Zouma show the direction West Ham want to be heading in and, after failing to bring in anyone in January, they need to make a statement in the transfer market this summer. West Ham must work to build a team around Rice which can compete at the highest level. That does not mean overzealous spending, but shrewd, impressive and progressive investment.

Reaching the Champions League will make that far easier, but even if the Hammers can secure another season of Europa League football through a top-six finish, then there will be reasons for Rice to stay. West Ham just need to make them clear to him.

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