Declan Rice fee likely to be dictated by other big-money moves
Declan Rice's West Ham United career has carried on for far longer than many people envisaged it would.
The 24-year-old has been earmarked as one of world football's top midfielders for a couple of years, owing to some superb performances for both club and country. Rice remains at the very top of his game despite West Ham's recent struggles and his consistency means that questions are continually asked over what he'll do next.
This summer, Rice will have just two years remaining on his West Ham contract. He is not the club's top earner, despite his lofty standing in the game, and has shown no inclination that he's ready to sit down and discuss fresh terms.
Rice has instead dropped subtle hints that his time at West Ham is nearing an end. He has spoken publicly of his desire to play Champions League football and challenge for trophies, and that's clearly something West Ham aren't in a position to offer him.
“Undoubtedly he’s going to be a top player and undoubtedly he’ll be a British transfer record and more whenever he leaves West Ham,” manager David Moyes said in the aftermath of the recent 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at St. James' Park.
“A lot’s been said about it and when you see what’s been happening with prices, I think Declan will be blowing that out the water when it comes around," the Scot added when probed about whether Rice's departure from West Ham is inevitable.
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“It’s just the world we live in,” the words of West Ham legend Mark Noble. “We’re West Ham and these players want to go out and play Champions League football - and do you blame them?"
It's hard to imagine a situation where Rice does stay at West Ham. It now comes down to what kind of business the club will look to do when interested clubs come calling, and who will stump up the money David Sullivan and co. are likely to demand.
Arsenal and Chelsea are considered as frontrunners to sign Rice, while interest remains from multi-time Premier League winners Manchester City and Liverpool - the latter of whom clearly needs a player of Rice's calibre to steady an increasingly rocky ship. Manchester United have also been in the mix previously, but Erik ten Hag's eyes remain locked on Frenkie de Jong and United did sign Casemiro in the summer.
That cluster of clubs know that West Ham are unlikely to do business at anything less than £100m - 90min understands that's the figure that would likely lead to a sale - with Jack Grealish's move from Aston Villa to Manchester City in the summer of 2021 likely to used as a benchmark.
There's also the £105m fee that Chelsea just paid Benfica for Enzo Fernandez to consider. Many would argue that Rice offers just as much in terms of an overall midfield package - he's only two years older than Fernandez (though he admittedly doesn't have a World Cup under his belt) - and it's conceivable that West Ham will argue that Rice's extensive Premier League experience has significant monetary value.
"Wherever Declan ends up, or however much someone pays for him, whether it’s here or anywhere else, he’s worth every penny."- Mark Noble on Declan Rice
A move is also likely to be in the offing for Rice's England teammate Jude Bellingham; currently tearing it up for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. The 19-year-old is on the radar of City and Liverpool, as well as Real Madrid, and is likely to cost in excess of £100m if he moves because he doesn't have a release clause written into his Dortmund contract like Erling Haaland did.
If Bellingham costs that much, why wouldn't West Ham demand the same for Rice?
What's clear is that whoever does win the race to sign Rice is signing a player who can do it all. A relentless runner in midfield who cuts out balls in the passing lanes for fun. An organiser and leader who has dragged players up to his level over the past couple of years. A midfield powerhouse who loves to drive out from defence with the ball at his feet to spring a lightning fast counter attack. A Champions League quality player.