West Ham supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their side back up their first Premier League victory of the season last weekend with a hard-fought draw on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into their meeting with London rivals Chelsea at the London Stadium off the back of easing past Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park the week before, thus securing their first win of the campaign at the fifth attempt. And while they weren’t able to make it back-to-back successes on Sunday, they deservedly secured a 0-0 draw from the visit of Maurizio Sarri’s Blues, in turn ending the 2017 league champions’ 100% start to the season.
As such, there have been many satisfied Hammers fans up and down the country in recent times, although some are unlikely to be too pleased with the current situation surrounding the future of Declan Rice, what with contract talks seemingly not progressing.
And defender Pablo Zabaleta has had his say on the situation, stating that the 19-year-old could become ‘one of the greatest players for West Ham’, and that as such the club must ‘think about his situation’.
And the 33-year-old is absolutely right to suggest that the Hammers have to sort his future out, as failing to do so could see the East London outfit make one of their worst mistakes in years.
Ultimately, Rice has burst onto the scene in the last few years since making his senior debut for the club at the end of the 2016/17 season, with the versatile starlet going on to make 26 Premier League appearances last term in the Hammers’ run to 13th place in the table.
And while he was substituted at half time in their opening weekend 4-0 defeat at Liverpool last month, the 19-year-old has played as big a part as anyone in their recent upturn in form, dominating the midfield expertly in their win at Everton before giving Chelsea no room at all in the middle of the park last time out – thus, he has a very bright future ahead of him.
Clearly, even at the tender age of 19, Rice looks set to play a key part under Pellegrini this season if recent performances are anything to go by, which makes the youngster’s future even more exciting given he could indeed become a star at the London Stadium – potentially a great as Zabaleta notes.
But with his contract set to expire at the end of the current season, the Hammers board simply must act to tie the 19-year-old down to a new deal – reports suggest that top Premier League clubs are already keeping tabs on the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international.
Failure to do so would not only see Rice leave the club next summer for very little, but it would also see West Ham lose not only a star for the future, but an integral part of their squad now – regardless of the amount of money spent during the summer, the 19-year-old appears to be just as important as anyone to this team.
As such, Zabaleta is absolutely right to suggest that the club need to tie Rice down to a new deal, as at present they are at risk of making a terrible mistake in losing the 19-year-old in the near future.
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