The 20-year-old was infamously ‘hooked’ at half time by Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini in the opening day mauling at the hands of Liverpool, and the England international has now named a trio of potential destinations he had in mind.
“Loads of Championship clubs were interested in taking me [on loan],” he told the Football Daily podcast [06:29]. “[Aston] Villa, Blackburn [Rovers], [Nottingham] Forest – literally everyone.
“Because the season before I played 33 times – appearances, only started 14. [I’d] come off the bench under [David] Moyes, [Slaven] Bilic. Yeah, I was thinking about going on loan, and that’s where most of the teams from the Championship will have seen me: from the year before.
“I said to the manager ‘I need to go’. Played at Liverpool: hooked. Bournemouth: not even in the squad. I was thinking to myself ‘I need to go and play, I’m not going to get a chance’. Luckily that chance came again and [I] just fully took it, committed to it and didn’t look back.”
Wow, how different life would have been had Rice had gone out on loan last season. The youngster had a really rough start to the last campaign, performing woefully in the first half destruction by Liverpool and subsequently being substituted at the break by Pellegrini. At that point there would have been plenty of West Ham fans who would have welcomed his departure on loan and, indeed, the player himself thought it was a good idea too. However, Pellegrini blocked a temporary exit because he saw something in Rice, and he very much went on to prove his manager right. Now, he’s an established England international and arguably the Hammers’ most important player. It just shows you what the right manager and the proper opportunity can do for a player. However, fans of Villa, Blackburn and Forest will be thinking what might have been when they listen to this interview.