If David Moyes wants to keep Declan Rice at West Ham for the foreseeable future, he’s going about it in a very odd way indeed.
The Daily Express report that Chelsea are preparing a £45m bid for the player when the transfer window opens for business, and though he was, eventually, vociferous in his praise for the youngster in his pre-match press conference before Wednesday’s game against the west Londoners, his opening gambit might well have pushed Rice closer to the exit door.
“If you think of the great players that have been at West Ham over the last 125 years, [they’ve had] some stunning players,” Moyes said, cited by the Daily Express. “Declan Rice is not anywhere close to that level yet.
“So Declan has got a lot of improvement to do to meet that level but he is a very, very good player.
“I have had the chance to see a lot of players at the top level, their qualities, Declan has many, many of them.
“My idea is to build West Ham around Declan Rice. I see Declan Rice as a future captain of West Ham, for many reasons I am looking forward to working with Declan and unless I am told different or things change he is a very big part of the club to me.”
If the Hammers end up going down to the Championship, then the chances of Rice staying in order to get them straight back up to the English top-flight must be slim in any event.
Indeed, Moyes may well have much more on his mind to contend with should the east Londoners fall through the trap door.
Currently out of the bottom three only on goal difference, West Ham could’ve well done without having to play Chelsea in their very next game, with old boy Frank Lampard perhaps putting one more nail in their coffin.
With three of their final six fixtures against teams in the bottom five, and one more against Champions League-chasing Manchester United, Moyes certainly has his work cut out.