Premier League • England

New Declan Rice admission over Chelsea, Man Utd links – ‘clubs are always watching’

West Ham star Declan Rice

West Ham star Declan Rice admits ‘top clubs around the country are always watching’ amid rumours linking him with a transfer to Chelsea or Manchester United.

The midfielder made his 46th appearance of the season during West Ham’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal. Rob Holding put the Gunners in front, before Jarrod Bowen dragged the home side level.

Gabriel restored Arsenal’s lead in the 54th minute and Mikel Arteta’s side held on to strengthen their top-four hopes.

West Ham, meanwhile, sit in seventh place on 52 points. They could still qualify for next season’s Europa League, although most of their attention is on winning the competition this time around.

Rice has been one of West Ham’s best performers again this campaign. Due to this, he is a target for Chelsea and United. And they were recently given hope of completing a transfer after Rice rejected the offer of a new West Ham contract.

However, either club will have to spend big to get him. Hammers boss David Moyes thinks his transfer value should be at least £150million.

During a recent interview with Sky Sports, Rice was asked about the exit rumours. He said: “I feel like playing well comes with speculation.

“I’ve had two or three top seasons with West Ham and the top clubs around the country are always going to be watching. It’s not just me, it’s the same for every player.

Declan Rice ‘won’t get carried away’

“I think it’s important not to get too carried away with that. We’ve had a good season with West Ham and there have been big games I’ve had to play in. So I feel like my focus has always been on that.

“If I thought about other things, I’d get carried away and that wouldn’t be fair on the team or the manager.

“Speculation can’t be helped, even with the numbers that get talked about. I get battered for it all the time on social media, but I can’t help that. I can help by going on the pitch and performing as best as I can.

Declan Rice declines another West Ham contract

Declan Rice declines another West Ham contract

Declan Rice turns down another contract offer from West Ham amid Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United rumours

“They [West Ham team-mates] wind me up all the time. It’s crazy to speak about to be honest, so I just kind of block it out and do what I do best and that’s play football.”

Rice came third in the FWA Player of the Year Award, behind Mo Salah and Kevin de Bruyne.

On this finish, Rice added: “It’s not bad. I would like to have won it. But obviously up against Salah and De Bruyne it’s hard to say, because I can never imagine putting my name with those types of players.

“To come third, it shows that people have appreciated what I’ve done on the football pitch.

“This season, I feel like I’ve taken another step in the right direction in my career. But I’m still only 23 and trust me, I know myself and I’ve got so much more that I can let out of the bag.”

READ MORE: Declan Rice warned off transfer: ‘Man Utd isn’t the place to go’