Darren Bent is adamant that star midfielder Declan Rice will not quit the club if West Ham United qualify for the Champions League by winning this season’s Europa League.
Rice, 22, has been with the Hammers since leaving the Chelsea youth setup in 2015. After making his senior debut in the last game of the 2016-2017 campaign, his career has gone from strength to strength. The Kingston upon Thames-born ace has made 153 appearances in all competitions, scoring seven goals.
But his primary function in the side is to disrupt opposition attacks, protect the back four and help launch his own attacking players. And there are few in the game who can do it as well as Rice.
England came calling in 2019 and the talented schemer has now made 26 appearances for Gareth Southgate’s side. He was superb throughout the Three Lions’ run to the final of Euro 2020 and scored his second international goal against Hungary last month.
Unsurprisingly, many clubs have been linked with the former Republic of Ireland youth star.
Rice a happy Hammer
Manchester United have been mentioned as potential suitors on more than one occasion while Chelsea are also keen. But he pledged his future to the London Stadium outfit earlier this week after a stellar start to the season.
Rice has carried his summer form into the Premier League and Europe, bagging his second Europa League goal on Thursday. And former Tottenham striker Bent feels West Ham’s continued success in that competition may play a part in his future.
“If they win the Europa League this year and they are in the Champions League next year, he won’t go anywhere,” he told talkSPORT. “What’s his reason for going then? He’s playing in the best competition in the world then.”
And the man capped 13 times by England feels sure that playing in Europe’s elite club competition is the key.
“I think people will come and get him, regardless of what happens. But that is his club – West Ham,” he added. “He’s the captain – I know Mark Noble is the captain – but it’s him because he will play more.
“If they can somehow win the Europa League, they’re in the Champions League next season, he’s not going anywhere.”
Rice has helped the East End outfit to seventh place in the top-flight standings. They have won four of five games in all competitions and sit top of Europa League group H with maximum points.
Next up for David Moyes’ side is Sunday’s visit of Brentford for what is expected to be a tough encounter.