In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, Rob Lee, who spent one season with West Ham United, admits he can’t see Declan Rice staying with the Hammers in the long term unless they continue to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.
With Mark Noble not starting many games this season, it has been Rice captaining the side, something Lee says is an unbelievable achievement for someone who is just 22 years of age.
West Ham are currently challenging for the top four, however, Lee can’t seee that being a regular occurrence at the London Stadium, which is one of the reasons why Rice will search for pastures new in the coming years.
Rice has become one of the first names on the team sheet for David Moyes as well as forcing his way into Gareth Southgate’s side, however, the dream of Hammers fans seeing their midfielder emulate Noble’s one-club mentality may be smashed, according to Lee.
The former Hammers midfielder fears Rice won’t be around for the long term future with an inevitability of him being prised away by a bigger club, in financial terms and in terms of winning trophies.
“Unfortunately, for my hometown team, no.” Lee told FFC when asked if he sees Rice becoming a one-club player like Noble.
He added: “West Ham have done brilliantly, but to keep that going, you have to spend money, a lot of money to keep up with the likes of Man City, Man United and Chelsea.
“He’s probably the best player at doing what he does, sitting in the midfield for a young guy, he’s probably the best I’ve seen for a long time at doing what he does. For him to be captain at such a young age is a great achievement for him.
“So, I think eventually he’ll be prised away.”
Rice has improved season-on-season and was regularly touted with a move to Chelsea when Frank Lampard was manager and one club players seem a rarity nowadays.
The England international has proved his worth at West Ham and may only be a matter of time before he gets a move away from the London Stadium.