He was ‘better than Declan Rice at West Ham’ but is now worth only €5.5m

He was ‘better than Declan Rice at West Ham’ but is now worth only €5.5m

Rice moved from West Ham to Arsenal on Saturday for a club-record fee of £105 million.

The transfer fee exceeds the £72 million the Gunners paid for Nicolas Pepe four years ago, and is a British record between two clubs.

Chelsea paid Benfica £106.8 million for midfielder Enzo Fernandez in January, so Rice’s acquisition falls just short of the British transfer record.

The 24-year-old has signed a five-year contract with Arsenal that extends until 2028, with an additional year’s option. The move ends the midfielder’s ten-year association with West Ham.

Rice rose from the youth ranks of the Hammers to become the club’s third captain to win a significant trophy, following Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds.

Rice has become one of the greatest midfielders in the world, but his path to the West Ham first team was not easy.

According to the Athletic, Reece Oxford was widely regarded as the premier talent in the West Ham academy, having made his debut as a 16-year-old when West Ham defeated Arsenal 2-0 in 2015.

In addition, other prospects received their professional contracts before Rice, and Rice’s camp grew increasingly concerned that he would be released for a second time after being released by Chelsea.

Lewis Page, a former West Ham trainee who is now with Gillingham, told the Athletic, “I recall having a conversation with him after supper. Dec was uncertain as to whether he would receive a scholarship from West Ham.

“He was released by Chelsea and feared that it would happen again.” I was always confident that he would, but at the time, the club did not know what Dec’s finest position was.

“Reece was the best talent at center-back, and I don’t know if the club believed Dec was good enough to play in midfield.” Josh Cullen and Ben Marlow were in advance of him. But West Ham took a gamble, and it has since paid off.”

Rice is now the most expensive British player in history, assuming he performs well enough to earn his £5 million add-ons. Transfermarkt currently values Oxford at £4.7 million.

He was ‘better than Declan Rice at West Ham’ but is now worth only €5.5m