This is the transfer rumour that just won’t go away, isn’t it? We’re going to move Declan Rice to the Emirates by sheer dint of will—or, if rumour has it, Wilshere. As the story goes, our own Jack Wilshere, current manager of the u18s and former teammate of the former Irishman, could be our ace in the hole when it comes to securing Rice’s services. The two buddied up during Wilshere’s two-year spell at West Ham, and Rice has gushed over their relationship while also dropping hints about his future and his desire to play Champions League football. His contract is up in June 2024, but the persistent rumours suggest he’ll be moving in a matter of months.
Asked “How much help has Jack Wilshere been for you, having gone through the same experiences [of getting dropped after mistakes on the pitch]?” by the official West Ham website, Rice had the following to say:
Me and Jack has been a surprise friendship. We get on so well, we’re like best friends really…to be training with him is crazy because I grew up watching Jack Wilshere putting in performances on Match of the Day and against Lionel Messi in the Champions League in 2010, when he was only a kid. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. Jack has been great for me.
That sounds like an answer that was just waiting to spill out. To start with such a personal response about friendship feels like an accidental tell, as if Rice has been kept this little bromance under wraps for far too long and just couldn’t wait for a chance to declare his feelings to the world. Our man Wilshere has clearly made an impression on Rice.
Rice went on to talk about how Wilshere’s career was racked by injury, denying him international caps and chances at silverware. That, and the fact that he grew up watching Wilshere play against Lionel Messi and other stars has to weigh on Rice’s mind. He has to know what it will be a long, long time before West Ham ever make it back to continental competition, be it the Europa Conference League or anything else. By helpful contrast, Rice has the ageless Mark Noble to listen and learn from. While Noble might wax nostalgic about the glory and loyalty of devoting yourself to one club (although he did spend two years at Hale End), he might also speak wistfully of never having played in the Champions League. At a risk of getting ahead of ourselves, we look like the only London club likely to qualify.
‘Twixt the two and with West Ham teetering on the edge of relegation, Rice could very well have his head turned should Wilshere continue pouring honey in his ear. We’d probably have to go north of £100m to secure his services, but that once eye-popping figure is quickly becoming a starting point for negotiations rather than a ceiling for fees. Maybe not, though. Chelsea are showing that spending big does not translate to success, at least not directly; and recent relevations at Newcastle and allegations against Man City could have a dampening effect on transfer fees. Hard to say.
We’ll hear more about this little saga for months on end, I’m sure, and it won’t end until one club or another’s official website settles the issue. Until then, let’s hope we can count on our man to get us our man.