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battle for star How West Ham's lack of signings may speed up Declan Rice’s departure

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West Ham have a battle on their hands to hang on to Declan Rice. Photo: Andrew Couldridge

West Ham have a battle on their hands to hang on to Declan Rice. Photo: Andrew Couldridge

West Ham have a battle on their hands to hang on to Declan Rice. Photo: Andrew Couldridge

West Ham United face a battle to hang on to Declan Rice after the club’s inactivity in the January transfer window encouraged his suitors that the midfielder could be prized away this summer.

Rice, who has been one of the Premier League’s best performers this season, is a target of Manchester City, United and Chelsea, with West Ham braced for summer bids.

The 23-year-old has turned down two contract offers and made it clear that his ambition is to win trophies and play in the Champions League. West Ham had put themselves in a position to challenge for a top-four spot, which would secure Champions League qualification, but their rivals believe they may have squandered their opportunity by failing to strengthen the squad.

That may have cost the Hammers their best chance of keeping Rice. They relied heavily upon him during the first half of the season, in which the club climbed to fifth in the Premier League table, reached the fourth round of the FA Cup and qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Despite his affection for the club, Rice could still be tempted away should a Champions League bid evaporate.

There have been no fresh contract talks since last summer and the club cannot afford to make him the kind of offer – similar to the £380,000-a-week deal Jack Grealish signed at Manchester City – to reflect their enormous £100million-plus valuation.

Rice’s contract has two-and-a-half years remaining, and West Ham have the option of a further year, but the club cannot offer anything close to what Rice could earn elsewhere.



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