West Ham United fans and the wider football world have been perplexed as to why the club has failed to offer young star Declan Rice a satisfactory contract.
Hammers fans are seriously concerned the club could lose Rice over his much-publicised contract impasse.
Rice has been embroiled in protracted contract negotiations since breaking into the West Ham first team last season.
The former Chelsea youth player became an integral part of firstly David Moyes’ setup and now Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Rice wage seems more ridiculous with every brilliant performance
Negotiations between the players’ representatives and West Ham over a new deal have become difficult in the past few months.
Rice, who earns about £3,000 per week currently (Evening Standard), recently rejected an offer of £15,000 per week plus £20,000 for every Premier League start and a salary rise after every 15 Premier League games.
The key to satisfying Rice’s demands appeared to be offering a higher basic wage.
But West Ham are yet to budge and according to the London Evening Standard, the East Londoners have made their teenage star a final, improved contract offer which remains unsigned.
On the pitch Rice’s performances have gone from strength to strength attracting admiring glances from clubs like his old side Chelsea (talkSPORT).
That has fans worried and they have been highly critical of co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold for dragging their heels.
Are FFP rules and summer spend the reason for contract delay?
But is West Ham’s unprecedented £100 million summer splurge now preventing the club from rewarding Rice with a satisfactory contract?
Pellegrini signed nine players for the Hammers first team squad in the summer including record £40 million buy Felipe Anderson.
West Ham have a host of big earners on their books.
Javier Hernandez is on a reported £140,000 per week and Marko Arnautovic on around £125,000 per week.
Andy Carroll collects £90,000 per week and a string of first teamers take home anywhere between £60-70,000 each week.
It all adds up to a sizeable wage bill and that was before the summer additions.
West Ham had around £7 million extra to spend on wages this summer by FFP rules (Claret & Hugh).
A logical explanation?
With nine new players the Hammers would surely have hit that FFP limit and probably gone beyond it.
So is that the reason the club has failed to give Declan Rice the deal he wants?
And are West Ham being forced to wait until the transfer window opens in January to offload some of their under performing players to make their wages available to hand over to Rice?
It would certainly help explain what has turned into a bizarre saga.
Particularly given that Rice and his representatives were reportedly asking for what is a moderate pay increase.
Time will tell but West Ham fans will be hoping the delay does not lead to a change of heart from the coveted 19-year-old who has always insisted he wants to stay at the club.