It’s believed Felipe Anderson’s West Ham exit this week will allow the club to make a much more attractive contract offer to Declan Rice.
Rice has previously turned down two contract offers from the club this summer, with reports citing a salary offer that is below what a player of Rice’s market value would command.
But now, with Felipe Anderson officially off the books, having returned to Lazio, it frees up in excess of £100k-a-week for the club to redistribute elsewhere, either on new arrivals or as part of contract negotiations with current stars.
According to the Sun, the club are planning to use the additional cash in the wage bill to improve their contract offer to Rice, who has been attracting increased interest from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United this summer.
It’s a deal that, put simply, has to be agreed sooner rather than later. With Jesse Lingard currently unlikely to return to the club on a permanent deal, due to Man United’s £30m valuation, losing Rice as well would be a huge blow to David Moyes’ preparations ahead of the new season. Any club that losses its two best players in one transfer window would find it hard to recover straight away.
So this is a smart move from the club, with Rice’s stock on the ascendancy following a hugely impressive Euro 2020 with England. Having started all of England’s games in this summer’s tournament, including the final, Rice has put himself on the radar and will continue to dominate the transfer rumour columns until he either moves or commits his future to the club.
The 22-year-old is good enough to play for any of the elite clubs across Europe and West Ham must accept that he’s not going to stay at the club forever, but trying to keep him for at least one more season is crucial for the short term success of David Moyes’ project in east London.
It wouldn’t be unfair to bow down to Rice’s contract demands this summer but also agree that if an acceptable offer comes in for him next summer then he would be free to leave the club. One more year of development at West Ham, most likely as captain while Mark Noble takes up a bench role in his final season, and the chance to further impress potential suitors by playing in the Europa League, he’s likely to be a wanted man again next summer.
And by signing a new deal now, he doesn’t just get himself the wages he deserves, he also protects the club’s valuation of him, and he also boosts his own earning power when it comes to negotiating a salary with whoever decides to sign him. Penning a new deal and agreeing to stay for at least one more season should be the dream scenario for both parties – but can the club convince him of that?