Former West Ham United striker Carlton Cole believes Declan Rice need not seek a transfer away from the club just yet, amid recent links to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Rice, recently nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, has had a brilliant season for the Hammers as a holding midfielder.
He made his debut in the 2016/17 season, but has established himself as one of the Premier League’s brightest young talents this term.
His form has led to reports suggesting there is interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, while Scott Minto even claimed Real Madrid have been looking at him.
It would appear Rice is destined to play at the highest level and is realistically unlikely to remain at West Ham for the entirety of his career, but Cole has advised against moving quickly.
The club’s academy technical coach told The Daily Mail: “I’d tell him to focus and concentrate and be somewhere where you’re not a number but you’re prized and you’re the main man.
“You’ll get your chance at the big clubs if you’re still doing it down the line. He’s only 20. If he’s doing it at 24 with a load of international caps under his belt then the club won’t hesitate if a big offer comes in.
“But it is premature at the moment and he is sensible enough to take that on board.”
Cole may have a point. Rice is still only 20 and it could be foolish to jump ship so early in his career.
At West Ham, Rice is playing week in week out and that is crucial for a player of his age and of his quality.
Having signed a new deal in December, it certainly seems as though Rice will remain a little while longer yet, and the starlet’s love for the club is genuine.