West Ham captain Declan Rice looks set to leave his boyhood club this Summer (Summer is Here SALE)r with Arsenal and Manchester United heavily linked.
But former Irons goalkeeper David James has admitted he would prefer to see the midfielder either stay at the London Stadium or move abroad – with Bayern Munich also very interested in his services.
Rice has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and though West Ham have struggled domestically – slipping to 14th in the Premier League – he has consistently performed well.
David Moyes’ side have been better on the continent however and have the chance to win their first major trophy in 43 years when they play Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday night.
Victory would also see the east London club qualify for the Europa League and James is hopeful that that could entice the 24-year-old to snub a transfer, telling King Casino Bonus: ‘I’ve got this beautiful scenario in my head where West Ham win this competition, Declan Rice decides to stay.
‘They therefore qualify for the Europa League and then win that to get into the Champions League. I know it is a fantastical situation, but then it would be up to Declan what he does.
‘It’s very easy to say Declan Rice is going to be a key player, but if he is on it it gives West Ham every possible chance to lift the trophy. I really don’t think they will fear Fiorentina at all on Wednesday in Prague.
‘You look at Mark Noble and everything he achieved at West Ham; there would have been plenty of teams who wanted him at his peak, but he stayed there to the end and secured legendary status. Declan Rice has the rare chance to do that, same as Harry Kane at Tottenham.
‘My point is, why can’t a player fall in love with a club and stay there for the duration of their career? Finances are the easy answer, because you could earn three, four or even five times as much at some of these gargantuan clubs.
‘If it were just purely down to the love of the club, I’m sure he would stay. I think he is in a similar situation as Harry Kane, whereby West Ham fans would not begrudge him a move.’
Regardless of the final result, Rice’s departure seems inevitable, having turned down multiple opportunities to extend his contract past next Summer (Summer is Here SALE)r, and the England star has expressed his desire to play in the Champions League.
Arsenal are the favourites for his signature and are reportedly ready to submit a £90million bid soon after Wednesday’s final, but Bayern can of course also offer UCL football and have a far stronger history in the competition.
‘Personally, I would love to see him play abroad for two reasons,’ James added.
‘The first, from a selfish point of view, is that I wouldn’t have to see him playing against West Ham! He’d undoubtedly cause them all sorts of problems as well, because he is such a solid professional and would take the emotion out of it.
‘But secondly, for him personally, he would gain so much experience from playing abroad. He could experience football in the same way I did when I was very late in my career; experiencing a new culture, becoming a more rounded player.
‘You look at the success of Jude Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund, there is no reason why Rice couldn’t follow suit and go and become a legend with a foreign club, before returning to the UK as a much more developed player. I think we would all be able to enjoy Declan Rice on another level.’
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First appear at Former West Ham star urges Declan Rice to snub Arsenal and Manchester United in favour of move abroad