The Mail reported that the 19-year-old has turned down a £12,000-per-week contract offer that his representatives deem derisory, and Higginbotham feels they should have got a deal done far sooner.
“You have to put it in perspective – yes 15k-a-week is a lot of money, but it’s not in football and not in the Premier League,” he told talkSPORT. “A lot of other clubs would be willing to double that – that’s the problem for West Ham.
“West Ham should have started contract negotiations a while ago, because the player holds all the cards now. He’ll be going into the last 12 months of his contract in the summer and if you’ve got a young player who you believe in, you just don’t do that.”
Higginbotham is absolutely right. Whatever West Ham are offering Rice, be it £12,000 or £15,000-per-week, it’s pittance by Premier League standards. It’s all about what his peers are earning for doing the same job – and in many cases for doing a worse job – it’s all relative. He is playing regularly in the Premier League at a very high level, and he is massively underpaid. The club have allowed him to get into the penultimate year of his current contract and that was a big mistake, they should have got a fresh deal sorted long ago. Like Higginbotham says, if you believe in the potential of the player then you don’t mess about, you simply get their contract sorted. The fact that the Hammers haven’t perhaps means they didn’t expect Rice to have this big of an impact on the team, but they should have got him sorted when he started making regular first team appearances last season. They now risk losing him because of their own stubbornness and that would be a massive error from the East London outfit.