West Ham have been told to show more loyalty to Declan Rice by giving him a contract he deserves, following reports the youngster has rejected a new deal with the Premier League club.
The 19-year-old academy graduate has become a first-team regular at the London Stadium following a breakthrough campaign for the Hammers last season – making 31 appearances for the senior team.
He has been voted the club’s Young Player of the Year for the last two seasons, and yet there are now doubts over his long-term future at West Ham.
The club have been criticised for moving too slowly in tying the youngster down to a new contract, with Rice entering the final two years of his deal which currently sees him earn just £3,000-a-week.
It is claimed West Ham are prepared to offer Rice around £12k-£15k per week to sign a new deal, but that fee is miles away from his advisers’ expectations.
Rice has thrived under new boss Manuel Pellegrini this season, moving from defence to a defensive midfield role to great effect and impressing with outstanding performances in his last two games – a 3-1 win over Everton and a 0-0 draw with Chelsea.
And former Premier League defender-turned-pundit Danny Higginbotham believes West Ham run the risk of losing the youngster to a rival club if they don’t stump up the money – saying it’s their own fault for allowing his contract to run down.
Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, the ex-Southampton and Stoke star said: “You have to put it in perspective – yes 15k-a-week is a lot of money, but it’s not in football and not in the Premier League.
“A lot of other clubs would be willing to double that – that’s the problem for West Ham.
“West Ham should have started contract negotiations a while ago, because the player holds all the cards now.
“He’ll be going into the last 12 months of his contract in the summer and if you’ve got a young player who you believe in, you just don’t do that.
“You shouldn’t really do that with any player – if you allow a player to go into the last two years of his contract, they hold all the cards and it becomes a big issue.
“That’s West Ham problem for allowing that to happen with Declan Rice.”
If Rice leaves, it would likely cause a big fan backlash, with some sure to turn their fury at the club but there are also those who will look at the player and accuse the youngster of a lack of loyalty.
But Higginbotham says it works both ways, and has called for the Hammers to show more loyalty to their academy graduate and give him a contract he deserves after his breakthrough into the first-team.
“One of the things I’ve seen is that, unfortunately and bizarrely, homegrown lads sometimes don’t get treated the way they should, because the club feels they have a hold on them,” the former defender added.
“There’s no such thing as loyalty in football anymore, sadly.
talkSPORT listeners believe Declan Rice should be happy with a £15k-a-week contract offer from West Ham…
“People go on about players being more loyal to clubs, but it’s a two-way street and if a club doesn’t want you, they will soon get rid of you no matter what you’re earning.
“That’s just football now.”
Listen back to Danny Higginbotham on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above!
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