Every Premier League player aspires to play at Old Trafford, and West Ham captain Declan Rice is no exception.
On Sunday afternoon, the 23-year-old led his club to a 1-0 away defeat to Manchester United, thanks to a winner from Marcus Rashford. Rice’s performance was excellent, as we’ve come to expect from the midfielder, but his words about Old Trafford before the game raised eyebrows given the current transfer rumors.
“It’s inspiring for sure – it’s Old Trafford,” Rice said as he walked around the legendary stadium. “You think of the history, the major games that have taken place here, the top players that have played here, and you want to come here as a player and make your mark and stamp your authority – one to win, and two to play well yourself.”
Rice was a target for United earlier this year before adding Casemiro and Christian Eriksen to bolster their midfield. West Ham never intended to sell him in the summer, but many still feel he will join one of the so-called “Big Six” clubs.
Rice has established himself as one of Europe’s top holding midfielders since being released by Chelsea at the age of 14. He joined West Ham’s academy and made his Premier League debut in May 2017, amassing 179 Premier League games to date.
Rice made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland in 2018, gaining three senior caps, but switched sides the following year. He went on to play 34 times for England, helping Gareth Southgate’s team reach the Euro 2020 final.
Although Rice has yet to win a major award, he has received numerous individual awards. He is a two-time West Ham Player of the Year, as well as a two-time Young Player of the Year, and was named to the Europa League Team of the Season in 2021/22.
Rice has also risen to the position of club captain at a young age. He took over the armband at West Ham after Mark Noble retired in the summer, although he was already used to wearing it, having done so on countless occasions in recent years. Rice is undeniably talented enough to play in the Champions League.
It’s easy to see why Manchester United has been keeping tabs on Rice’s progress at West Ham. Calls for Erik ten Hag to sign the holding midfielder have died down since Casemiro and Eriksen came, but there’s a chance they’ll resurface shortly.
After all, both Casemiro and Eriksen are 30 years old. United want a long-term answer to their midfield conundrum, and Rice would be an excellent addition. His statements on Old Trafford will please United fans who want to see him in a red shirt.
Rice’s current contract has two years left on it, and West Ham has the option to extend it for another year if they so desire. Hammers manager David Moyes stated in February that Rice is valued at more than £100 million by the club and that this will remain the case.
In recent months, Chelsea has been linked with a move for their ex-player, while Liverpool is looking for a new central midfielder. Although it is claimed that Jude Bellingham is Jurgen Klopp’s first target, Rice would be an excellent alternative.