Declan Rice has come clean about why playing at Old Trafford inspires him with the West Ham skipper potentially paving the way for Manchester United to resurrect transfer interest in him.
Rice has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League at West Ham. Named their captain at just 23, he already has clocked up 212 appearances for the Hammers in what is already his seventh season. And the player is also a regular for England and a near-certainty to make their World Cup squad.
As such, it’s easy to see why Rice is a man in demand. Indeed, several big sides, including United and Chelsea, are regularly linked with his signature.
The midfielder is contracted to the Hammers until 2024, with the club retaining a one-year option on that deal. West Ham would dearly love to tie the star to a new and improved deal and talks have taken place over a new deal.
But with nothing agreed, West Ham remain vulnerable over a future move away. Hammers boss David Moyes, though, reckons it could cost a British record £150m fee to convince his side to sell.
Of the clubs linked wit his signature, it is perhaps Chelsea who are most strongly linked.
Rice began his career in the Chelsea youth academy before being released. However, he retains strong links with the club with close pals Mason Mount and Reece James currently playing for the side.
Indeed, with Chelsea potentially losing both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho next summer, a move for Rice will move swiftly back into focus.
Declan Rice has gentleman’s agreement with Chelsea
To that end, talkSPORT‘s transfer expert Alex Crook admits he ‘would not be surprised’ to see Rice end up at Chelsea.
Speaking earlier this year, Crook believes Rice will give West Ham one more year before switching to Stamford Bridge.
“It wouldn’t surprise him if he ends up at Chelsea in the long haul,” Crook said.
“People feel that he might have a bit of unfinished business there…
“We know about his friendship with Mason Mount. Simon [Jordan] will probably tell you that that doesn’t really come into play when players pick their new clubs, but they do have a really strong bond.
“I think Declan Rice will give West Ham one more year.
“I think there’s almost a gentleman agreement that he will do that… although we know they don’t mean much in football from the Harry Kane saga last summer.
“I expect him to leave next summer and if Chelsea are a Champions League club, if they finish in the top four as I would expect them to, I think they’ll be right there knocking on West Ham’s door.”
Star drops Man Utd hint
However, that’s not stopped Rice dropping a hint about a possible future move to Manchester United.
The midfielder led his side out at Old Trafford on Sunday as Erik ten Hag’s side edged to a 1-0 win.
Despite the defeat, Rice put in another excellent performance as is typical of his standards.
However, his comments before the game raises further speculate about his future and his motives in the game.
“It’s inspiring for sure – it’s Old Trafford,” Rice told Sky Sports, as he took a look around the famous ground. “You think of the heritage, the big games that have been here, the top players that’ve played here.
“You want to come here as a player and stamp your mark and stamp your authority. One, you want to get a win, and two to play well yourself.”
The Kingston-upon-Thames born star is very much a southern boy, though. As such, it would surprise no-one were he to make Chelsea his next club. Any transfer though is likely to cost the Blues a club-record deal. With it, it will also leave Moyes and Co with a huge hole to fill.