West Ham United’s 19-year-old starlet Declan Rice has spoken to the Premier League about how he believes his success can help inspire the next generation at the Hammers.
The teenager, who made his top-flight debut in 2017, has spoken on how he feels his progression from academy to first team can help inspire the players in the club’s youth ranks and prove that hard work pays off.
Speaking to the Premier League over the international break, Rice said: “Most of the academy lads are maybe looking up to me and thinking, ‘That’s where I want to go next’. That’s what working hard does, and training well. It gets you into the first team and playing games.
“You’re coming in to train for two hours. Don’t pass up that chance to work hard and give everything, because that’s what will get you in the side. Growing up watching West Ham, a massive club with a massive fanbase, I know how much it means to all the fans and for me and my family to put on the shirt and play every week.
“It’s a crazy feeling, to be honest, I can’t put it into words.”
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While Rice did not speak on his future directly, his words on knowing how much the club means to the fans from his childhood and the emotions of wearing the claret and blue jersey would give fuel to the thought that he knows how much he is valued by the “massive” fanbase.
It goes without saying that a player can believe in how much he is worth without wanting to leave, as they do only have a finite amount of time to make money in their career.
What gives this idea more substance, though, is that he sees himself as a role model to the academy already, despite only being a regular first team member for a year. Clearly Rice feels he’s having a positive impact at the club, and not only on the pitch.
No matter how much Rice may love West Ham, if the club does not give the 6 foot 1 ace what he feels he is worth then his future will lay elsewhere.
The former Chelsea academy member would certainly not be short of potential suitors with the Blues one of a long list rumoured to be monitoring his situation.
Under Manuel Pellegrini in particular, Rice has proven himself to be an integral part of the Hammers’ side – cementing the defensive midfield role with WhoScored averages of a tackle attempted every 33.3 minutes, a clearance every 36.5 and an interception every 47.9.
The kind of performances the teenage ace has put in already show he is worth far more than the rumoured £3,000 a week wage he is currently said to be on, all West Ham need to do now is give Rice what he and rival clubs feel a player of his potential deserves.