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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Rice: I've got the ability to play for Manchester United

The Hammers talent believes he has what it takes to step up, but feels it isn’t the right time at the moment.

Declan Rice (file pic).
Declan Rice (file pic).

DECLAN RICE BELIEVES he is good enough to play for Manchester United, but thinks the time isn’t right to consider a move away from West Ham.

The 20-year-old was linked with a move to Old Trafford during the recent transfer window, but has stayed put at the London Stadium to anchor Manuel Pellegrini’s midfield.

When asked about the United rumours, Rice made it clear he felt it was the right decision to remain in east London, but suggested he could make it at the Theatre of Dreams.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve got the ability to play for a club like that. But it’s all about the timing and I don’t think the timing is right for me at all. I’ve still got so much to learn,” Rice told FourFourTwo in their latest magazine.

I’m loving it at West Ham, the connection between me and the supporters is special. I’ve become one of the fans’ favourites and the manager likes me.”

Rice signed a five-and-a-half-year deal with the Hammers at the end of 2018 after becoming a first-team regular under Pellegrini following a slow start to the season.

He indicated there was a chance he could remain at West Ham long term, but was adamant he wanted to just see how his future played out over the next few campaigns.

“I’ve signed a contract here for the next few years and I’m looking forward to playing this season and the season beyond, so we’ll just see where it goes,” he said.

To be called a West Ham legend in the future, maybe, would be a real honour.”

Rice revealed his breakout season at West Ham nearly never happened, after he was close to joining Aston Villa on loan at the start of the campaign when it looked as if he might not be a regular.

The defensive midfielder was substituted at half-time while the Hammers were 2-0 down against Liverpool at Anfield on the opening weekend and it crossed his mind to seek a move for first-team opportunities.

“I wanted to go to Aston Villa under Steve Bruce,” he said.

“I remember speaking to Ryan Fredericks on the plane on the way home, and I was thinking that I should go on loan.

“Being dragged off at Anfield and then being left out of the squad for the next couple of matches, it really made me think.

West Brom, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa wanted me. I was pushing for Villa the most.

“I remember speaking to the manager here, saying that I should go on loan. He just laughed it off and said, ‘You’re not going on loan!’ He said, ‘You’re going to stay, and you’re going to play’. He told me that I had to get back into the team.”

Rice has played 90 minutes in all four of the Hammers’ Premier League matches this season, helping the team to a seven-point tally that puts them in seventh position in the table.

His solid domestic form was rewarded by England manager Gareth Southgate with selection in the squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo.

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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