DECLAN RICE has a big decision to make this summer – and it’s not about staying at West Ham.
Every team in Europe is dying to sign the future England captain at the end of the season, although few can afford it.
But even the handful of clubs that can meet the Hammers’ demands will leave Rice with a dilemma as he considers all of his options.
Because how do you vote when Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester City are all on your doorstep?
The fact that West Ham still have an option to extend their contract until 2025 is irrelevant.
Whether they stay in the Premier League or not, they know their best player is going. Rice practically confirmed that last month when he said he was dying to play in the Champions League.
Because that’s not going to happen at West Ham any time soon.
Because of this, he has already turned down an offer of a new EIGHT-YEAR contract from the club, which would happily make him their highest-paid player in the blink of an eye.
There are about a dozen players at the London stadium who currently earn more than Rice, including left-back Emerson Palmieri, Ivory Coast winger Max Cornet and reserve keeper Alphonse Areola.
But that’s often the case with players who graduated from the academy rather than signing the big bucks from another club.
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But it’s not about the money for Rice. It’s about competing at the highest level and savoring the last drop in your career.
He will have seen his 29-year-old England team-mate Harry Kane – who signed for Tottenham back in 2011 – still waiting to lift his first major trophy at the club after signing on to a lucrative long-term deal five years ago .
And he won’t make the same mistake at West Ham.
He will also have noticed how his pal Jack Grealish, 27, gave up being a big fish in a small pond at Aston Villa to win the Premier League in his very first season with Manchester City.
The only question now is which club offers him the best opportunities to fully exploit his talent in the prime of his career.
At just 24, he has the potential to become one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in the next ten years.
Just last April, David Moyes said West Ham would not consider selling their captain for less than £150m.
But now the consensus is that he could go for a little over half that amount, especially if the Hammers are relegated to the Championship.
Yet with so many serious clubs using his services there is plenty of potential for a bidding war that will take this fee to UK record levels.
Although Chelsea fired Rice from her academy when she was 14, she wouldn’t be ashamed to break the bank to bring him back.