We all know it’s going to be a long, nervous summer where Declan Rice’s future is concerned.

Our captain-elect, as Mark Noble’s career winds down, has been consistently linked with a move away from the club over the last two years, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all credited with an interest in his signature ahead of the summer transfer window.

The fact some of the biggest clubs in the country are looking at him is no surprise to anyone – he’s one of the Premier League’s best holding midfielders and will no doubt make a huge difference to England’s fortunes at the Euros this summer.

Having a player of his calibre at a club like ours means we’re always going to be worried about bigger clubs circling and flashing the cash, it’s happened before with the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole, and it’ll continue to happen until we’re a position where we don’t need to sell our best players.

Having finished 6th and qualified for the Europa League next season, we are perhaps in a stronger position to convince our best players to stay at the club for now, but the potential dangling carrot of Champions League football and a hefty salary that bigger clubs can offer will always be a threat to us.

However, in the post-match celebrations on Sunday, after we beat Southampton 3-0 to secure our first top-six finish since 1999, Declan Rice was at the centre of all the media reports and the club’s social media coverage.

And when asked about qualifying for next season’s Europa League, the 22-year-old said: “We’ll go and play anyone.

“Thursday nights here next season… it is going to be massive, so let’s build on it.

“It has been amazing to captain the team this season and we’ve got many more good moments to come. It is unbelievable, the gaffer has been top. Everyone has played their part, working day in, day out.”

Now, if they’re not the comments of a player who has absolutely no interest in leaving the club anytime soon, then I don’t know what is.

If anything, he’s shown his ambition for continuing what he started at this football club and has an appetite to captain West Ham next season in what will be a historic campaign, competing in the Europa League group stages for the first-ever time.

Of course, that could all change very quickly if a club does come in with a concrete offer, especially if it’s one the club simply cannot refuse. Given the financial difficulties the club has been forced to deal with over the last year or so, a huge transfer fee literally could be too good to turn down, regardless of whether David Gold and David Sullivan have any intention of selling the club’s biggest name this summer.

So Rice has hinted that he sees his immediate future at West Ham, let’s just hope he’s the man leading the team out at London Stadium come August, as our midfield is simply not the same best without him.