Date: 29th May 2019 at 7:19am
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OPINION

When West Ham look back on this season, it will largely be regarded as a campaign of frustration and missed opportunities. 

Despite spending a shedload of cash last summer, and despite bringing in a top tier manager in Manuel Pellegrini, the Hammers made little tangible progress this term.

Yes, the general feeling is that there are reasons to be optimistic, and yes, the squad has had more than it’s fair share of injury issues to peg it back, but all in all, this has not exactly been a campaign to remember.

One bright spark, however, has been the emergence of Declan Rice in the centre of the park.

The 20-year-old has strolled in the Hammers’ side as if he has been there years, and looked every inch the calm, assured midfield influence that the Irons have been crying out for to partner Mark Noble in the engine room.

The youngster has not only slotted into his club’s side with ease, but he has also looked at home on the international scene as well, and you would not be surprised if he was a fixture of Garth Southgate’s England plans for a long time to come.

The issue is, however, that that level of performance attracts attention.

Rice has already been linked with a move to Manchester United, as reported by the Independent, and his latest comments will have a few fans worried about his future.

When asked about the possibility of playing Champions League football in the future, as quoted in the Daily Mail, he said: “Definitely I want that.

“When you start out in football you always want to play at the top. You want to play in the Champions League.

“If you were in football and you didn’t want to do that there’d be no point playing.”

Now, obviously United aren’t in the Champions League next season, and you get the impression that Rice is more than happy where he is at the moment, but the chances of him ever playing in top European competition with West Ham are slim to minimal.

If his ambition is truly to play Champions League football, then it is surely only a matter of time before he is forced to look elsewhere to achieve that dream.