Soccer-Midfielder Rice will leave West Ham, says chairman


Soccer Football - Europa Conference League - Final - Fiorentina v West Ham United - Eden Arena, Prague, Czech Republic - June 7, 2023 West Ham United's Declan Rice kisses the trophy as he celebrates with teammates after winning the Europa Conference League REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

(Reuters) - Declan Rice will leave West Ham United in the close season, chairman David Sullivan said on Thursday, a day after the midfielder captained the club to their first European trophy in 58 years.

Sullivan said a gentleman's agreement means Rice can leave despite a year remaining on his contract with the option to extend it by a further 12 months.

When asked if Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League was Rice's last game for the club, Sullivan told Talksport: "I think it has to be.

"We promised him he could go. He set his heart on going. You can't ask for a man who has committed more to us this season. In due course, he has to get on and we have to get a replacement, or several replacements.

"It's not something we want to happen. We offered him 200,000 pounds ($249,260) per week 18 months ago. He turned it down. It's cost him 10 million pounds to stay at West Ham in that time (in lost wages).

"And he wants to go. You can't keep a player who doesn't want to be there... I think the offers will start to come today."

Rice joined West Ham's academy from Chelsea as a teenager and has been ever-present since his breakthrough season in 2017-18. He took over the captaincy after Mark Noble's retirement last year.

The 24-year-old played 50 games in all competitions this season as West Ham finished 14th in the Premier League before clinching the Europa Conference League in Prague on Wednesday.

Rice has played more than 200 games for West Ham and also earned 41 caps for England since his international debut in 2019.

($1 = 0.8024 pounds)

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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