Declan Rice insists he’s focusing on West Ham until after the Europa Conference League final, while his club look at summer replacements for him.
In recent days, Bayern Munich appear to have joined Arsenal and Manchester United in the race to sign Declan Rice this summer.
The Evening Standard report that Arsenal remain the frontrunners to complete the signing, but West Ham may well be getting their wish for a bidding war in the meantime.
West Ham’s initial valuation for Rice is £120m, and though there are no suggestions anyone is willing to pay that at this stage, they’ll obviously hope to drive the fee as close as possible to that amount.
We won’t get any significant updates for the next week, however, with Rice telling the media he’s fully focused on West Ham’s Europa Conference League final.
“My main focus this season, from the World Cup onwards, has been getting us out of a relegation battle and, of course, having one eye on winning this trophy,” Rice said.
“Everything else is just noise and speculation. Obviously, I can’t help that, it comes with playing. But my main focus is playing for West Ham and winning this final.
“My heart’s set on that, doing it for the club, for my family, for the fans and that’s my only focus. I want to make them all very happy and my focus is on doing that.”
West Ham’s final against Fiorentina is on Wednesday, June 7th, and neither West Ham nor Rice are likely to want to entertain any distractions before then.
For West Ham, this is a huge game, with the chance to earn them some long-awaited honours, as well as securing them European football for next season.
With the exception of the Intertoto Cup and the Championship playoff final, it’s been 42 years since West Ham’s last trophy lift – the League Cup.
But despite the attempts to avoid any distractions, West Ham have already started to look at replacements for Rice, with James Ward-Prowse of Southampton identified as a summer target.
The Hammers won’t want to miss out on their priority signings, which gives some hope they’ll be keen to a fairly speedy resolution to the Rice saga once the final is done.
24-year-old Rice has made 49 appearances for West Ham this season so far, scoring five goals and providing four assists from his defensive midfield role.
Rice is also an England international, making 41 appearances for his country, including playing the vast majority of their winter World Cup campaign – starting every game and only coming off once.