Manchester United have been told that the only way midfield target Declan Rice will sign a new deal at West Ham is if they qualify for the Champions League.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, former Aston Villa and England attacker Gabby Agbonlahor claimed that the Hammers have their best-ever chance of breaking into the top four this season. They are currently three points clear of fifth-place Man United after their 4-1 thumping of Villa last weekend.
England star Rice will play a key part in that, although Claret and Hugh reported recently that West Ham have halted new contract negotiations with the player until the end of the campaign.
United have long been linked with the 22-year-old, with Paul Pogba likely to move on next summer. Manchester City are also known admirers, although they are unlikely to splash out in excess of £80million for another English midfielder – having spent £100m on Jack Grealish already.
Speaking to Football Insider: “He’ll love it there.
“For me, it’s a similar situation to Jack Grealish. Loves the club, loves playing there and enjoys his football. But if you’re not getting into the Champions League, he’s going to leave. West Ham will have to sell him in the next couple of seasons.
“He won’t want to play in the Europa League. He’ll want to be in the big boy competitions with the likes of the Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool players.
“He starts for England, he’s a world-class midfielder. West Ham have now got a season to get into the top-four to keep him. If West Ham don’t get into the top-four this season then Declan Rice probably wants to move on to bigger things.
Rice could walk away
“It’s a shame because he suits that team, he loves his football. But I can’t see him signing a new contract unless they are in the Champions League.
“They could do that this season. West Ham have been doing well, they should fancy themselves.
“They’re probably the fourth-best team in the league on current form.
“They have been flirting with fourth and I think it’s time, as a club with the squad they’ve got, they’ve got to look at getting into the top-four because it’s the best chance they’ll get.”