First, we were lauded for refraining from bidding on Declan Rice due to West Ham’s Europa League Conference commitment. Now, we’re expected to show similar restraint as Rice joins Ramsdale, Saka, and others on international duty. If these stories are to be believed, we won’t be officially bidding on Rice until the Ides of June, a date that might not rise to the levels of the Ides of March but just might be similarly, um, disappointing.
If we’re to wait until the Three Lions somehow find their way past Malta and North Macedonia before officially bidding for Rice, you can assume that my knickers will officially be twisted. It’s not that I resent Euro qualifiers per se; it’s more that I don’t see why we should have to defer to the likes of Italy, Malta, North Macedonia, or Ukraine before completing this kind of transfer business (okay, so I defer to Ukraine here; they’re one country that does have somewhat more pressing matters to attend do).
West Ham are apparently sticking firm to their valuation of Rice at £100m. Just a few years ago, that might have seemed exorbitant, but, thanks to various clubs that we won’t name, such a fee is now de rigueur. Let’s be honest, though—this is worlds apart from Chelsea signing Mudryk for £88m or whatever the fee ended up at. Rice is home-grown and Prem-tested; if anything, he’s been in the trenches for far longer than many other top-tier transfer targets. Hell, if he can drag West Ham up and away from relegation and to a Europa Conference League title (sneer if you will; it’s still an achievement), he’s proven his worth.
Securing his services may cost us £100m, plus bonuses. That figure might cause a few jaws to drop, but keep this in mind: it’s not our money, and transfer fees have ballooned to ridiculous levels. It wasn’t so long ago that a £100m transfer fee would have set a record for just about any club. These days, it’s just the cost of doing business at this level.
Rice is going to spend a few weeks with Ramsdale and Saka, listening to them talk about their development under Arteta. Something tells me they’ll do more to convince him to make the switch than anything Edu or Arteta could say…