EXCLUSIVE: West Ham are confident Declan Rice WILL stay at the club next season – and want to make him their highest-paid player and club captain as reward for showing ‘respect’ by not demanding a move
- West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has been the subject of transfer speculation
- The Hammers are 'assured' the 23-year-old will stay for at least another year
- Rice and the club could negotiate a new deal to make him their highest earner
- Despite outside interest from top clubs, Rice has not demanded a move away
West Ham believe they have beaten off interest in their coveted star player Declan Rice and will see him lining up in claret and blue when the next season kicks off.
The Hammers are ‘assured’ the 23-year-old will become the new club captain and stay ‘for at least another year’ and reject overtures from bigger clubs.
The midfielder has not given West Ham any reason to believe he wants away and plan to unveil him as the new club skipper after Mark Noble retires in a fortnight.
West Ham are confident that Declan Rice will stay at the club for at least another season
A source said: ‘I believe he is staying for at least a year and maybe beyond that. He has been nothing short of decent to the club and the fans.
‘There is still a new contract to be negotiated and he will become the highest paid West Ham player.
‘The club are comfortable with the way things are proceeding and Declan’s respectful way he is going about things.
‘When he kissed the badge and ran towards the West Ham fans in Lyon after he scored in the Europa Cup, it just underlined what he feels about the club and the supporters.
‘Declan will likely be England captain one day and it is not lost to many at the club that he is following in the footsteps of our greatest player Bobby Moore who lifted the World Cup as a West Ham player.’
The Hammers want to make him permanent captain and their highest earning player
Rice is an integral part of David Moyes' side and has been the subject of transfer speculation
The source added: ‘It is difficult for him to say anything publicly, but you just have to examine the passion and dedication he shows wearing the West Ham shirt to see where his heart remains.’
Rice is contracted to stay at the London Stadium until 2024, with West Ham holding the option of extending that deal by another 12 months. It is reported that the current offer to keep him is £200,000-a-week.
The club’s owners David Sullivan and David Gold are adamant to avoid a repeat of the bitterness shown towards them in previous seasons when West Ham struggled and had to fight to beat relegation and know they must keep key players as well as make major new signings during the summer.
Selling Rice at the stage when the team and club are making progress towards being regular members of the top six or seven will be a disaster, it was said.
It means that Manchester United's incoming boss Erik ten Hag could be set to miss out on Rice
West Ham have a history of selling players like Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard junior and Michael Carrick who have come through its academy and then sold to bigger clubs.
The positive vibes surrounding Rice are likely to be a massive boost to the team who take on Eintracht Frankfurt at the Deutsche Bank Park stadium on Thursday evening.
The Hammers are 2-1 down after the first leg and winning the semi-final will put them into the final in Seville in three weeks and the chance to win a place in next season’s Champions League.
Winning the Europa Cup will automatically qualify West Ham for Europe’s premier competition which Rice has declared is his ‘urgent’ ambition.
Manchester United, who have emerged as sole contenders to lure the £150-million rated player from the East Enders, are set to miss out on qualification for the Champions League.
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