Rice leaves West Ham amid Arsenal links



Sat, 15 Jul 2023 - 11:40 GMT


Sat, 15 Jul 2023 - 11:40 GMT

England's Declan Rice celebrates after the match REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

England's Declan Rice celebrates after the match REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

(Reuters) - West Ham United have announced the departure of England midfielder Declan Rice for a British record transfer fee, the Premier League club said on Saturday.


The 24-year-old leaves the club amid links with Arsenal, having recently guided West Ham to the Europa Conference League title and a 14th-place finish in the English top flight.


"Everyone at West Ham United should be very proud of the part we have played in his journey from the Academy of Football at Chadwell Heath to becoming the most valuable young player in English football," West Ham joint chair David Sullivan said in a statement.


Rice made his senior debut for the Hammers in 2017 and went on to make over 240 appearances for the club. He was named captain after Mark Noble's retirement last year.


Rice had one year left on his West Ham contract, along with the option of a one-year extension.


"I would like to make it clear to our supporters that we did not want to sell Declan. We wanted to build our team around him and made a series of improved, long-term contract offers to secure his future," Sullivan added.


"However, once Declan made it clear that he wished to move on and seek a new challenge, the Club felt it would not be right to stand in his way, acting in the best interests of West Ham United."


Rice, who started his youth career at Chelsea's academy before moving to West Ham at the age of 14, will leave the east London club after 10 years.


"I knew from the very first moment I walked into Chadwell Heath (training ground) that I had found another place I could call home," Rice said in a lengthy message to West Ham's fans.


"I look back now and realise how crucial my time at Chadwell Heath was in shaping me, as a footballer and as a man... I found the perfect place to build my confidence, enabling my focus, determination and ambition to flourish.


"I want you to know how tough a decision it has been for me to leave an environment that I have loved and cherished so much. Ultimately, though, it has only ever been about my ambition to play at the very highest level of the game."


Rice is linked with a move to Mikel Arteta's side as Arsenal look to close the gap at the top of the league after finishing second to treble winners Manchester City in the last season.


Arsenal will return to the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17.



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