West Ham star man Declan Rice looks to be eyeing a move away from the London Stadium in favour of playing Champions League football next season.
The player expressed his desire to compete at a higher level after seeing his “friends” in the England camp do so, garnering speculation he could be heading for another Premier League side.
The Hammers want to tie Rice down to a new deal, but with his current one set to expire in 2024, they may have to accept a transfer fee sooner rather than later for the 23-year-old.
Rice has previously rejected bids by the East London club and in Qatar the Englishman dropped a hint that he will look to leave in the summer.
He said: “I see my friends here who are playing Champions League and for big trophies. You only get one career and at the end, you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in.”
However, Rice reaffirmed his current commitment to West Ham after attending their weekend friendly against Fulham, which may give their supporters some hope he can be convinced.
Rice rejoins Hammers teammates at Fulham friendly
During the 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage, Rice posted on Instagram: “Good to be back watching the boys.”
Assistant manager Billy McKinlay later added that he was pleased to see Rice back with his team, as reported by the Mirror.
McKinlay said: “It was good he was here watching – he must be bored already. He has played a lot of high-profile, full-on games, like the other boys.
“They will be fine with a couple of days rest and then they will be ready to go.
“I would hope Declan and the other World Cup players to be in contention on Boxing Day.
“It is a brilliant day against Arsenal, probably the best team in the first half of the season. I am sure we will be ready to go.”
Rice is still a young player but with over 200 appearances for the Hammers has experience beyond his years.
He’s also become one of England’s most important players under Gareth Southgate, already chalking up almost 40 caps for his country.
However, with the Hammers currently just one point above the relegation zone, it’s hardly surprising that Rice is keen to play at a higher level.
TEAMtalk reported in early December that Liverpool may have a good chance of signing the midfielder, along with England teammate Jude Bellingham, next summer.
With Rice’s pal Kalvin Phillips joining Manchester City at the beginning of the current campaign, it’s thought that Rice wants a similar move for himself.
Chelsea have also been linked with bringing Declan Rice back to Stamford Bridge for a long time.
Rice began his career in the Chelsea youth system, before joining West Ham in 2013 as a 14-year-old.
The Hammers placed a £100m valuation on Rice earlier this year, but the fact that he doesn’t want to sign a new contract may bring that figure down next summer.