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Dublin: 10°C Friday 16 April 2021

Declan Rice commits long-term future to boyhood club West Ham

The 19-year-old midfielder has been in outstanding form for the Hammers since making his senior breakthrough.

DECLAN RICE HAS committed his long-term future to boyhood club West Ham United, after putting pen-to-paper on a contract until summer 2024, with the option to extend it by a further 12 months.

The 19-year-old, who came up through the ranks of the club’s academy, has become a key player for the Hammers since his senior breakthrough last year and news of Rice’s commitment is a major fillip for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Southampton v West Ham United - Premier League - St Mary's Rice celebrates West Ham's win at Southampton last night. Source: Andrew Matthews

Rice, who has made 19 first-team appearances this term, has yet to announce his decision on whether he’ll declare his international allegiance for Ireland or the country of his birth, England.

His performances for West Ham has seen the holding midfielder’s worth soar in recent months and although he was under contract at the London Olympic Stadium until 2020, the club have moved quickly to ward off interested parties.

The London-born teenager, who turns 20 in January, joined West Ham at the age of 14 having been released by Chelsea and has already passed 50 first-team appearances for the Hammers, including 16 starts this season under Pellegrini. 

Rice, whose influence continues to grow, has represented Ireland at every age level from U16 up through his Cork-born grandparents, but after making his senior international debut in a friendly against Turkey last Month, made himself unavailable for the Uefa Nations League campaign to consider his options.

Following talks with new Ireland boss Mick McCarthy, recent reports suggest Rice is ready to declare for Ireland over the Three Lions, but no formal announcement has been made. 

Commenting on his new West Ham deal, he said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have got the contract done, signed and to commit my future to the club until 2024. I’m absolutely ecstatic”.

Without a doubt, the plan was always to stay at West Ham. I’ve had the support from the fans, from the players and from the manager and now, to get it done and commit myself to this Club is a very special moment and I’m over the moon.

“I’ve now played 50 games for the first team and I’m progressing week-in, week-out, learning from a top manager and top players. I’m still young, so to put more years on my contract and keep developing here is the best thing for me to do now. With the support of the manager, the players, everyone, it was the right thing to do.”

Joint-chairman David Sullivan said: “Signing Declan to a new long-term contract is something we have been planning for and working round the clock on and I, the board, the manager and Declan himself are all very happy that everything has now been completed.”  

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Andy Dunne look back on a memorable year for Irish rugby.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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