West Ham United co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold have just painted themselves into a corner over Declan Rice’s future.
Rice has been heavily linked with a big money move to Chelsea all window (The Express).
Selling their prised asset and future captain would undoubtedly be final straw for West Ham fans.
Supporters are still furious at the sale of Grady Diangana to West Brom.
Star man by name but not by pay cheque
Fans have been calling for West Ham to prove their ambition and intention to keep Rice by handing him an improved long-term deal.
The Hammers star is one of the most coveted young defensive midfielders in Europe.
Despite that and his superb performances which earned him the Hammer of the Year award last season, Rice is still earning a modest £30,000 per week (WTFoot).
For perspective, that’s £20,000 less than Carlos Sanchez was on before he left in June.
It is also £20k less than Aaron Cresswell is on. Nearly £70k less than Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere. Over £10k less than Ryan Fredericks and Arthur Masuaku even.
Meanwhile the likes of Aston Villa are showing their ambition by tieing down star player Jack Grealish to a bumper new five-year deal.
Chelsea lurking for Rice
Many West Ham fans believe Sullivan and Gold fully intend to cash in on Rice if Chelsea come knocking.
But the duo have just made that so much more difficult for themselves after releasing a joint message to the 21-year-old on the club’s official website.
Sullivan and Gold congratulated Rice on becoming to youngest West Ham player to 100 appearances.
But their gushing comments have surely made it nigh impossible to sell Rice without losing any semblance of respect and trust in them from fans.
“To play every single minute of the Premier League campaign in 2019/20 was another outstanding feat, leading to him deservedly winning the Hammer of the Year award, and the fact that he has already captained the side at the age of 21 illustrates his leadership qualities,” Sullivan and Gold said on whufc.com.
Owners paint themselves into a corner with statement to star
“His progress and success so far is testament to Declan’s character and ability, along with the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to support his development, both in our Academy and at first-team level.
“Everyone here is very proud of him and he epitomises everything that this great football club stands for.”
Whether the duo are playing the game and talking up their most valuable asset to drive up his price remains to be seen.
But the best way to prove they want to keep Rice would be to hand him a new deal befitting of his status as one of the Premier League’s top players.
It really is as simple as that.