Gary Neville has compared the situation West Ham are facing with Declan Rice to what Man Utd experienced when Cristiano Ronaldo left in 2009.
Rice, 23, looks destined to leave West Ham at some stage in the next three years. The Guardian recently revealed the superstar midfielder has rejected a third contract offer to remain at West Ham. What’s more, Rice is now reportedly open to moving to a bigger club as early as this summer.
His current deal expires in the summer of 2024, though West Ham do hold an option for a further 12 months.
An exit could therefore be sanctioned in any one of the next five transfer windows with the Hammers unlikely to let him run down his contract and walk away for free.
Given his rapid rise, it’s come as no surprise to learn Manchester United and Chelsea are in the mix for his signature.
David Moyes has gone on record to state the bidding will start at £150m. However, neither United or Chelsea will bid that high and Moyes’ comments may just be posturing to try and drive up the price.
Regardless, transfers of this magnitude can often lead to discontent among either the player or club who are facing up to losing one of their most prized assets.
However, when speaking to Sky Sports, Gary Neville explained why Rice’s West Ham split may in fact be an amicable one.
Declan Rice exit might not become a drawn-out saga
“Declan Rice, we know he’s going to leave in the next year or two,” said Neville (via the Mirror).
“Because of the relationship, I think they can be really mature about this. I don’t think it has to be played out in the media.
“They can be really direct, honest and then communicate what they’re going to do. I don’t think there’s any reason to allow the speculation to destroy the dressing room spirit.”
Neville then compared Rice’s situation with Cristiano Ronaldo’s when he left for Real Madrid in 2009.
Declan Rice declines another West Ham contract
Declan Rice turns down another contract offer from West Ham amid Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United rumours
The Portuguese icon’s move to the Bernabeu was one of football’s worst kept secrets in the 12 months prior to the move actually taking place.
Neville explained how that ensured United weren’t negatively impacted by the departure, and claimed West Ham could walk a similar path with Declan Rice.
“When Cristiano [Ronaldo] left Man United the first time, it didn’t have an impact on the club because everyone knew what was happening,” continued Neville.
“There was no sort of wondering what was happening, there was no speculation.
“I think West Ham and Declan Rice could afford to do that with this one because everyone recognises that it’s probably going to happen anyway.”