West Ham ‘concede’ Declan Rice will leave in 2023 with three Premier League giants circling

Jason Soutar
Declan Rice outside the Souq Al-Wakra hotel

West Ham have ‘conceded internally’ that midfielder Declan Rice will be sold next summer with Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea interested.

Rice has been West Ham’s best player for the last two years and is one of the first names on England’s teamsheet.

He was integral when the Three Lions reached the final of Euro 2020 and once again shone at this winter’s World Cup.

The 23-year-old is now Hammers captain following Mark Noble’s retirement, making him the youngest skipper in the Premier League.

His form for club and country has seen him strongly linked with an exit, with Chelsea most notably interested in signing their former youth player.

Rice was released by the Blues as a teenager before being snapped up by West Ham.

After experiencing Europa League football in 2021-22, Rice is eager to make the step up to a Champions League side.

Prior to England’s World Cup last-16 clash against African champions Senegal, the midfielder admitted he is extremely eager to play in Europe’s premier competition.

“One hundred per cent, I want to play in the Champions League,” he said.

“For the last two or three years, I’ve been saying that. I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing. 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,” he said. “I really want to do that.”

These words did not come as a surprise to West Ham, who accept that Rice wants to play in the Champions League and are also aware they probably cannot offer that to him.

The Irons came close to finishing in the top four in 20-21 and reached the Europa League semi-finals last term. If they lifted that trophy, they would have automatically qualified for this season’s Champions League.

There is a lot of interested in Rice and a transfer in 2023 seems increasingly likely.

According to The Athletic, West Ham have ‘conceded internally’ that their captain will be sold next summer.

He will not be sold in January – ‘under no circumstances’ – but he ‘has’ to be offloaded at the end of the season.

Rice has rejected three contract offers from West Ham and has no desire to stay, but is hoping to leave on amicable terms.

As well as a contract offer that would make him the highest-paid player in the club’s history, the Irons have tried to convince Rice to stay by spending ambitiously in the transfer market.

They spent £165million last summer, bringing in Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca and Morocco defender Nayef Aguerd from Sassuolo and Rennes, respectively.

Rice does not want to force an exit and won’t hand in a transfer request, but wants out. West Ham have the option to extend his contract by a further year with his current deal running out in 2024.

No clubs are in ‘pole position’ to sign the player as things stand as the London outfit seek a huge fee next summer.

It is unclear how much West Ham will want for their star man. David Moyes has previously stated that he is worth £150m.

Something tells me they won’t receive that sort of fee. The report states that CIES Football Observatory value Rice at £70m.

Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd are all interested in signing Rice, who has a huge five months ahead of him at the London Stadium.

As mentioned prior, the Blues have been the most strongly linked with the England midfielder and are adopting a new philosophy following Todd Boehly’s purchase of the club.

Boehly sacked Thomas Tuchel in September, replacing him with Graham Potter, and wants to sign ‘young and hungry’ players, ideally under the age of 26.

Rice obviously fits that quota and Chelsea have been linked with him since Frank Lampard’s time as manager.

The 2021 Champions League winners are also interested in Rice’s England teammate Jude Bellingham, who is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund in 2023.

Midfielders N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are both out of contract at the end of the season and expected to become free agents, meaning Potter will need to bring in one or two new midfielders next summer.

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