Along with the signings of foreign stars such as Marco Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson, West Ham has declared its intention to invest in home-grown talent.
One day after a quality performance against Southampton, West Ham announced that it had signed holding midfielder Declan Rice to a new contract through 2024. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The 19-year-old has been a mainstay in the Irons starting XI since last spring, cementing his place and role as a high-quality defensive midfielder.
Rice is averaging more than two tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game, and he’s recorded an 85 percent passing completion percentage so far through 16 Premier League games this season, according to WhoScored statistics.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have got the contract done, signed and to commit my future to the Club until 2024,” Rice said in a statement. “I’m absolutely ecstatic. Without a doubt, the plan was always to stay at West Ham. I’ve had the support from the fans, from the players and from the manager and now, to get it done and commit myself to this Club is a very special moment and I’m over the moon.
“I’ve now played 50 games for the first team and I’m progressing week-in, week-out, learning from a top manager and top players. I’m still young, so to put more years on my contract and keep developing here is the best thing for me to do now. With the support of the manager, the players, everyone, it was the right thing to do.”
It’s unclear whether there was real interest from Premier League giants such as Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea, but by locking down Rice now, it ensures that the interest will be staved off for at least a few years. However, Rice has another big decision to make in the future. The London-born youngster is eligible to play for both England and the Republic of Ireland, through his grandparents. He’s played three friendly matches for the Republic, but was not included in Martin O’Neill’s last few squads before he was let go.
Now, new manager Mick McCarthy and England’s Gareth Southgate have been in touch with Rice to try and convince him which national team to play for. Rice is still eligible to make a one-time switch to England.