Transfer insider Dean Jones has dropped some more information about Declan Rice’s future that has both positives and negative connotations.
Rice has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea this summer, with several reports emerging over the course of the last few months that also suggest he is eager to return to the club that released him as a 14-year-old schoolboy.
Nothing has progressed beyond a sea of reports, rumours and transfer columns thus far, but the reality is it’s only a matter of time before we’re made to say goodbye to one of our best ever academy graduates.
However, Dean Jones, speaking on The Football Terrace’s The Done Deal Show, gave an update that will both delight and worry Hammers fans in equal measure.
He explains that while it’s unlikely Rice will be leaving east London this summer and that he won’t be forcing a move, he’s still not happy with the club following his return from an extended summer break.
Jones said: “I think Chelsea were definitely put off by the fact that West Ham threw a £100m price tag on him. Chelsea have always seen it as more of a £60m-£70m signing if they were going to do it.
“Declan Rice has been excited about the idea of going back to Chelsea, there’s no doubt about that. But as it stands right now, he’s not going to throw his toys out of the pram and demand a move. He’s a level-headed guy, he knows that if he continues the path he’s been on, he’ll be fine.
“Big season coming up for Wet Ham, though, and probably one of the only reasons that Rice is agitated right now is because West Ham have been slow in the transfer market and haven’t built on where they were last season when they got that Europan qualification.
“As it stands, Declan Rice is a West Ham player and will remain so.”
So Jones’ update has some good and bad bits to it. The good bit is that Rice has the maturity and the class to not throw his toys out of the pram and instead just bide his time. One more good season at West Ham, playing in Europe, off the back of a world-class showing for England at Euro 2020, is only going to increase his stock in the eyes of potential suitors like Chelsea.
In 12 months’ time, if he’s put in another solid campaign of performances together, I don’t think anyone would begrudge him a move back to Chelsea, or to any club competing at a higher level than West Ham. It works for the club, too, as we’ll not only have him for one more year but we’ll also have an opportunity to demand a bit more money for him if his market value does indeed increase.
But then there are Jones’ comments about Rice being agitated that the club has not been quick enough in the transfer market. We all know the club has been unacceptably slow in strengthening the squad this summer, and so it’s no surprise Rice is also unhappy with the lack of business thus far.
As soon as we confirmed our place in the top-six last season, we needed to make very quick moves to strengthen the weakest or under-staffed areas of the squad, but so far that just hasn’t happened.
Now, we’re heading into the final three weeks of the transfer window having only signed a goalkeeper, which is the one position that didn’t need strengthening.
So while it’s great that Rice appears to be staying at the club for at least one more season, it should be worrying for the club that their inability to operate quickly enough, in one of the most important transfer windows in the last 10 years, has resulted in their star playing being unhappy.
The next three weeks are absolutely huge for West Ham United.