West Ham United star Declan Rice has told Four Four Two that he wanted to join Aston Villa and play for Steve Bruce last year.
Rice has become one of the most promising young midfielders in the Premier League, and thrived under Manuel Pellegrini last season.
It's now hard to think about a West Ham side without Rice involved, as he's quickly adjusted to Premier League action having made the step up.
However, Rice was substituted at half time against Liverpool on the opening day of last season, with Pellegrini looking to save the game having been 2-0 down at the break.
That didn't work as Liverpool won 4-0, but being substituted in that game left Rice considering his options at the London Stadium.
Rice has now admitted that he wanted to go to Aston Villa and play for Steve Bruce in the Championship, whilst he also had interest from Nottingham Forest and West Bromwich Albion.
Rice spoke to teammate Ryan Fredericks and had time to think about his situation, but ultimately decided to speak to Pellegrini about going out on loan, pushing for a move to Villa.
Pellegrini laughed that one off, telling Rice he wasn't going out on loan at all as he would be playing a key role for the Hammers – and whilst Villa will wonder what might have been, Pellegrini has certainly been proven right.
“I wanted to go to Aston Villa under Steve Bruce,” said Rice. “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. I thought, ‘Well, if I’m not going to go on loan, then I have to give it everything here’. I realised that I needed to get much better if I wanted to play in the Premier League,” he added.
Have something to tell us about this article?