West Ham youngster unaffected by pressure on and off the field
PUBLISHED: 12:30 09 October 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Hammers defender Rice is still leading the way
When you lose a game, it is usually the younger players who are affected the most, but not when it comes to teenager Declan Rice.
You would think that he would have the weight of the world on his shoulders with contract negotiations as well as the debate about which international team he will opt to play for ongoing.
But despite having all that on his plate, he still put in another fine performance against Brighton on Friday night.
In the end it was a fruitless battle as West Ham were beaten by Glenn Murray’s first-half strike, but he remained positive afterwards.
“There were positives,” said the 19-year-old. “We had 70 per cent possession in the second half and you want to turn that into one or two goals.”
Much of that possession was from Rice himself. He always seemed available for anyone on the ball and rarely wasted it as he looked to get the Hammers on to the attack.
“We should have got a point at least, but we missed some gutting chances if we look back on it,” he added.
“We’ve got to be positive, go again and obviously it is Spurs next which is a massive game.
“We had some great results against them last season and we’ve got two weeks now where we need to fight and be ready to get back to winning ways.”
It is indicative of the youngster’s maturity that he seems completely unaffected by what is going on behind the scenes in his career.
Rice reportedly earns around £3,000 per week, while he rejected an offer of £15,000 per week, plus £20,000 for every Premier League start, as well as a pay rise after every 15 games.
The club are now offering £21,000 per week basic with a £5,000 increase after every 15 league games.
His agent is considering that now, while stories suggesting that the Hammer had made up his mind to play for England rather than the Republic of Ireland seem to have been premature. Sky Sports broke that story last Thursday, but it was denied by manager Manuel Pellegrini who said the player needed more time.
England is still likely to be his choice, but he was not included in the squad for their upcoming Nations League games against Croatia and Spain.
Rice, though, is more worried about West Ham’s start to the season.
“It’s been a mixed bag to be honest,” he said. “We started slowly, but the last four games have been excellent.
“We don’t want to get on too much of a downer. We need to stay positive and look forward to the Spurs game.”
Of all the players, you know Rice will do exactly that.