Declan Rice believes playing Champions League football as soon as possible is a matter of ‘urgency’ as he considers himself one of “the established top players around the world”.
Rice has emerged as one of the most consistent and talented all-round midfielders in the Premier League since bursting onto the scene at West Ham in 2017. He already captains the club on matchdays in the absence of soon-to-retire Mark Noble at just 23, and is a mainstay in the England first-team.
His exploits in the heart of David Moyes’ midfield last term fired the Hammers to sixth and secured Europa League group-stage football for the first time in the club’s history, which they navigated comfortably, and have set up a last-16 double-header against competition regulars Sevilla.
Such has been Rice’s form in the middle of the park for West Ham that Moyes believes the player is worth a nine-figure sum, though he recently stated that potential admirers missed the chance to sign him for a “bargain” £100m in the summer.
The Hammers are once again knocking on the Premier League top-four door, currently sitting fifth in the table, though with the chasing pack boasting a variety of games in hand on them, Rice has now outlined the ‘urgency’ for him to be playing in Europe’s blue-riband tournament.
Rice told Standard Sport: “It is as urgent as possible. I feel like, not only for me, that’s for every young player as well.
View this post on Instagram
“We are really close with West Ham at the minute and last season it was gutting to lose out on it but we are pushing. We’ll keep going. Champions League is a big aim of mine and hopefully one day I can play in it and do well.
“I feel like I am one of the established top players around the world. I am only 23, so I am still young — that’s what I mean in that sense — but in terms of my playing ability and the way I’ve performed consistently, I see myself as an established player now who’s got good experience and can play at any level if required.”
On the point of that £100m price tag currently looming above his head, Rice expressed the mind-boggling nature of seeing such a sum closely associated with him name.
He added: “You hear those numbers and for me it is crazy. All I can do is go out there and perform, regardless of the price tag. I just need to focus on playing well and performing at the best level I can.”