Rice Leaves West Ham for Record-Breaking British Transfer
West Ham United have officially announced that England midfielder Declan Rice is leaving the club for a record-breaking transfer fee within Britain, as confirmed by the Premier League team on Saturday.
The 24-year-old's departure comes amidst speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal, following his recent success in guiding West Ham to victory in the Europa Conference League and a 14th-place finish in the Premier League.
In a statement, West Ham joint chair David Sullivan expressed pride in Rice's journey from the Academy of Football at Chadwell Heath to becoming the most valuable young player in English football. Rice made his senior debut for the Hammers in 2017 and went on to make over 240 appearances for the club, eventually being named captain after Mark Noble's retirement last year.
While Rice had one year remaining on his West Ham contract, with the option for a one-year extension, Sullivan clarified that the club did not intend to sell the player. They had made several improved, long-term contract offers to secure his future and build the team around him. However, once Rice expressed his desire to seek a new challenge, the club decided it would not be right to stand in his way and acted in the best interests of West Ham United.
Rice, who began his youth career at Chelsea's academy before joining West Ham at the age of 14, will be leaving the east London club after a decade. In a heartfelt message to West Ham's fans, he acknowledged the significant role the club played in shaping him both as a footballer and as an individual. Rice emphasized the difficulty of his decision to leave a cherished and beloved environment but expressed his ambition to play at the highest level of the game.
Rice has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta's side aims to narrow the gap with treble winners Manchester City after finishing second in the previous season. Arsenal's qualification for the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17 adds to the appeal of the potential transfer.