West Ham give Declan Rice final 3-word transfer ultimatum as Mikel Arteta denies Arsenal decision

 

Declan Rice has been sent a defining message from the West Ham fans as he heads into a summer whereby he is expected to leave the club. With interested parties across the Premier League and Europe, the Hammers’ skipper is entering his final 12 months at the London Stadium.

 

Having fought off suitors in the past with Chelsea and Manchester United both keen to make moves for the England star, this looks to be the end of the road for Rice, who has turned down offers to extend his deal in east London. As Arsenal make him a priority and aim to add at least one top level defensive midfielder to their side, a summer of intrigue lays ahead.

Rice once more captained his team as they fell to final day defeat away at Leicester but could yet cap off his time at the club with a European trophy. West Ham face Fiorentina next week in the Europa Conference League, a game that could be his last for the Hammers.

It isn’t just fans that have found themselves somewhat resigned to losing their best player but manager David Moyes himself has also been honest in assessing the situation. We honestly hope he stays,” he said earlier this month. “We’d love for him to be a West Ham player but we are aware that might not be the case at the end of the season.

 

“So that’s one of the scenarios around planning. There are plans that we have Dec here but we’re also fully aware there is a good chance we won’t have him.”

The Irons’ position has been strengthened by the fact that they have secured a place in the Premier League next season but that still doesn’t do much to improve their chances of keeping hold of Rice with such strong admiration for him. His supporters are well aware of the situaiton, too.

As he applauded the travelling fans at the King Power Stadium, staying on the pitch to soak in the affection, chants of ‘one more year’ could be heard echoing around the away section. It was, not for the first time, a final plea made to the player.

 

For Arsenal and the others monitoring the situaiton it is just yet another piece of evidence to show how strong the bond is between player, club and fans. Breaking those apart will be tough but it’s top of the to-do list heading into the summer.

With Granit Xhaka now closing in on leaving the Emirates Stadium the need for a player of Rice’s profile and quality is even more apparent. Xhaka played what is expected to be his last game for the club in the 5-0 win over Wolves and leaves a big hole to be filled.

 

Although Arteta denied that it was set in stone, saying: “It’s news for me.” There still appears to be a potentially Rice-shaped gap emerging.


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