West Ham’s spell under Manuel Pellegrini did not get off to the best of starts on Sunday and Declan Rice could suffer as a result.
The Hammers were torn apart by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in a 4-0 defeat, with Pellegrini’s squad full of new recruits struggling to hit their top gear at Anfield.
The Chilean boss spent heavily in the summer to rejuvenate his squad at the London Stadium and further changes to his side are expected ahead of this weekend’s hosting of Bournemouth, as he seeks to secure a first win with the club.
However, it is concerning that reports from Claret & Hugh suggest that Pellegrini is mulling over dropping Declan Rice for Carlos Sanchez, who was signed from Fiorentina last week for a fee of £4m – a decision that could have lasting consequences that the club will be desperate to avoid.
19-year-old Rice was one of few shining lights for the Hammers in last season’s disappointing campaign, earning 26 Premier League appearances in his breakthrough year and showing signs that he could become a long-term asset for the club.
Now capped at senior level for the Republic of Ireland, Rice will be looking for continued first-team opportunities to help him cement his spot in Martin O’Niell’s side for the long-term and being dropped for a new recruit could be damaging.
“It’s a new manager coming in and I think everyone has got a fresh start under him. I can’t wait to show him what I’m about and what I can do. I played 32 or 33 times last year and I want to carry on this year. I want to keep playing games and keep improving and learning.”
Rice has already seen competition for a spot in the heart of the defence increase significantly following the signings of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop but his versatility proved to be decisive last weekend, as he started the game at Anfield.
Visibly furious to be subbed off at half-time, West Ham need to be very careful with the situation as they have been unable to agree on a new long-term deal with Rice despite negotiations taking place throughout the summer.
With his current deal expiring next summer, Rice could continue to snub new offers if he does not continue to earn first-team opportunities and it would see the young defender become the latest in a long line of Hammers starlets to seek a move elsewhere.
Pellegrini’s side were already forced to offload Domingos Quina to Premier League rivals Watford last week after the Portuguese ace entered the final year of his deal, and Reece Oxford is widely linked with a move abroad after impressing on loan with Borussia Monchengladbach last season.