Since his impressive performances at this summer’s European Championships, Declan Rice has taken his game to the next level, helping lift West Ham United into the top four in the early parts of this season.
The 22-year-old has now played every minute of the opening 12 Premier League fixtures and has become an indispensable member of David Moyes’ squad.
But uncertainty remains around his future at the club, with Rice having already turned down two contract offers from the Hammers earlier this year.
Currently valued at £100 million, the England midfielder has three years remaining on his existing deal, while West Ham have an option to extend his contract by another 12 months.
Keeping Rice at the club is a priority for Moyes, but that will be hard as Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly showing a great deal of interest in the player.
As stated by 90min, the sticking point in Rice’s contract negotiations is that the midfielder wants a release clause inserted into his new deal, but as a club policy, West Ham do not allow their player contracts to have buy-out clauses.
But there are several important reasons why the Irons may have to make an exception to that rule to keep the midfielder at the club.
Holding onto a player of Rice’s calibre shows West Ham’s intent to push on and challenge for the top four.
Meanwhile, it could also start a domino effect of re-signings within the club, and if West Ham are able to show they can hold on to players like Rice, they will be able to attract top-quality talent from further afield.
Over the next two seasons, West Ham will see the contracts of several first-team players expire and keeping some of these players at the club will be crucial to help David Moyes push his side to win trophies.
Manuel Lanzini, Vladimir Coufal and Michael Antonio will all see their contracts run out at the end of the 22/23 season.
One year later, Pablo Fornals and Thomas Soucek will also become free agents if the Irons cannot get them to resign.
Another player West Ham will urgently want to lock down is emerging right-back Ben Johnson, whose contract will expire in June next year.
Having kept Czech international Vladimir Coufal out of the side for the last two months, the 21-year-old has shown some sensational form and according to the Evening Standard, has been attracting much attention from other clubs around the league.
While Declan Rice’s signature wouldn’t necessarily be an outright catalyst help the Hammers to hold onto their better players, it would certainly act as a statement of intent from West Ham to build a squad that can consistently challenge for a Champions League place.