West Ham star Declan Rice will leave the Hammers eventually in search of a bigger challenge, according to Gabriel Agbonlahor.
The Lowdown: Rice continues to shine
Rice has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past year or so, going from young hopeful to arguably one of the Premier League’s most impressive midfielders – he’s even being hailed as ‘better’ than Roy Keane at this age by Stuart Pearce.
The 22-year-old has not only shone for his club, however, becoming an undisputed key man for England and winning 27 caps to date.
Rice will again be a big player for West Ham this weekend, as Liverpool visit the London Stadium for a huge Premier League clash.
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The Latest: Pundit makes big claim
Someone who believes Rice’s future lies away from the Hammers is former Aston Villa striker Agbonlahor.
Speaking to Football Insider, he claimed that the Englishman will want to be playing Champions League football soon – something the Hammers are unlikely to be able to offer:
“He’ll love it there. For me, it’s a similar situation to Jack Grealish. Loves the club, loves playing there and enjoys his football but if you’re not getting into the Champions League, he’s going to leave. West Ham will have to sell him in the next couple of seasons.
“He won’t want to play in the Europa League, he’ll want to be in the big boy competitions with the likes of the Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool players.
“He starts for England, he’s a world-class midfielder. West Ham have now got a season to get into the top-four to keep him. If West Ham don’t get into the top-four this season then Declan Rice probably wants to move on to bigger things.
“It’s a shame because he suits that team, he loves his football but I can’t see him signing a new contract unless they are in the Champions League.
“They could do that this season. West Ham have been doing well, they should fancy themselves. They’re probably the fourth-best team in the league on current form.
“They have been flirting with fourth and I think it’s time, as a club with the squad they’ve got, they’ve got to look at getting into the top-four because it’s the best chance they’ll get.”
The Verdict: Why leave now?
At 22, Rice is in no rush to leave, and frankly, it makes no sense for him to move on in the near future, considering West Ham’s current form.
The midfielder is playing in a team full of confidence and consistency, and while a top-four finish may be tough, it isn’t completely out of the question, with victory over Liverpool taking the fourth-placed Hammers above Jurgen Klopp’s men.
It is only natural that Rice may eventually have his head turned by one of the country’s biggest and richest sides, but he is in such a good place at the moment that it would be a risk moving on, especially if the Irons continue to thrive in European football.
In other news, some West Ham fans have criticised one player’s performance against Genk. Find out who it is here.
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