The annual Declan Rice transfer rumour mill has started early this year, with Troy Deeney the latest to suggest the West Ham United man could move on from the club this summer.
Deeney has added his thoughts on Rice’s future to that of his talkSPORT colleague Jason Cundy, who also believes that Tomas Soucek could be headed for the exit door this summer if West Ham fail in their bid for Champions League football.
The Hammers midfielders have now taken their fine club form to the international stage. Soucek scored a perfect hat-trick in the Czech Republic’s 6-2 win over Estonia last week while Rice picked up the Player of the Match award for England as they ran out 2-0 winners over Albania on Sunday evening.
Deeney has been impressed with Rice’s performances for both club and country and sees the 22-year-old as a first-choice pick for Gareth Southgate’s England team.
“Declan is going to be the one that’s going to be the constant [for England],” Deeney said. “Not only this season but last season as well, he’s just grown and grown as a player and a wonderful human being.
“It will be really interesting to see how he does at the Euros and whether that solidifies somebody from the top clubs to go: ‘Right, we’re going to pay the £50-60million that it takes to get him.’”
David Moyes and the club owners will be shocked to hear that Deeney only values their star at a maximum of £60m. Moyes has previously said it would take ‘Bank of England money’ to buy Rice and even then with the midfielder on a long-term contract he has no intention of letting him leave the club.
While co-owner David Sullivan has suggested it would take a bid of at least £100m for any negotiations to start, with Moyes declaring Rice worth ‘far, far more than £100m.’
Deeney is not the only pundit to be predicting West Ham face a tough task in keeping their midfield duo at the club former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy said there will be ‘huge’ interest in both players this summer.
“West Ham are going to struggle to hold on to them, the two midfielders,” Cundy said.
“If big-money bids come in, West Ham will possibly – unless they are in the Champions League – find it hard to hold on to them.
“Because huge money is going to come in for those two.
“Soucek has been brilliant; there is not a lot he can’t do! He can win the ball, he scores goals, he’s good in the air, he’s defensively solid… all round they’ve got a little bit of everything, Rice and Soucek.
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“They’re possibly the best two in the country, the best midfield partnership. If there’s anyone out there better than those two, there ain’t many better than them.”
With bids of £60m likely to be far too low for West Ham to consider selling their prized assets, Hammers fans should brace themselves for a long summer of transfer speculation with the midfield duo bound to be linked with the top clubs across Europe.
Particularly if they continue their current international form into the European Championships.