Declan Rice has been in the media spotlight recently regarding his international career, but it’s his future at club level which has dominated the headlines in recent days.
Academy products are always figures of keen interest for the supporters and Rice is certainly no exception to the rule. The teenager has impressed with his ability to combine technical quality with no-nonsense defending and he has established himself as something of a fan-favourite in the past twelve months with a series of commanding performances.
Indeed, it’s no coincidence that the Hammers conceded 6 goals and lost all 3 fixtures in which Rice was absent this season. He played a starring role upon his return as Pellegrini clinched his first league victory as West Ham chief against Everton, and he built upon his fine display by keeping Eden Hazard unusually quiet against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.
But with less than a year remaining on his current deal concern is beginning to grow that Rice will leave to embark on a new challenge if an agreement cannot be reached, and a recent report from the London Evening Standard will not do anything to ease the fears of West Ham supporters.
The report claims that Rice has rejected a new deal worth £15,000 per week despite the fact the proposed terms represent a 400% hike on his current £3,000 per week deal.
Danny Murphy has weighed in on the subject and delivered his verdict in response to the growing speculation by asking: “Why haven’t they (West Ham) sorted it? This lad hasn’t just come into the first team, he’s been around since last season!” (via talkSPORT).
In a summer when West Ham spent close to £100 million on the acquisition of new talent it seems rather bizarre that the club did not secure the long-term future of a player whom, as Murphy has said, is “looking very, very accomplished.”
At just 19-years-of-age Rice clearly has all the tools required to become a dominant midfield enforcer: he is composed in possession, a smart decision maker, strong in the tackle, willing to throw his body on the line and a fantastic athlete, so it remains a mystery as to why his future remains unresolved.
Murphy is absolutely right to question West Ham’s policy towards the situation when it has become abundantly clear that Rice is a star for the future.
The club can be excused for their failure to secure his future if his refusal to sign a new deal simply derives from his ambition to move to a top-four club when his contract expires, but if it’s a simple case of complacency and reluctance to meet his wage demands then there’s no doubt they are running the risk of making a cataclysmic error.
Players of Rice’s quality do not come around too often, so the West Ham board must take Murphy’s comments on board and meet his wage demands before it’s too late.
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