Football News

Declan Rice outlines ‘urgency’ to be playing Champions League football

By Ben Green

Published: 15:26, 4 March 2022


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.

 

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“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.”

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