Declan Rice signs long-term deal with West Ham as international decision is expected soon

Fri, Dec 28 2018

Rice in action for Ireland under-21s against Azerbaijan earlier this year. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Declan Rice has signed a new long-term deal with West Ham United as he continues to mull over his Republic of Ireland future.

The 19-year-old is expected to make an announcement shortly on whether to stick with Ireland, for whom he made three friendly appearances in 2018, or switch to his country of birth, England.

In the meantime, the London native has put in a string of outstanding performances in midfield for Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers, igniting interest from Premier League rivals, including former club Chelsea.

West Ham were eager to tie the teenager down to a longer-term deal and announced on Friday evening that Rice had put pen to paper on a five-and-a-half-year deal with an optional extra year.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have got the contract done, signed and to commit my future to the club until 2024. I’m absolutely ecstatic,” Rice told the Hammers’ website.

“Without a doubt, the plan was always to stay at West Ham. I’ve had the support from the fans, from the players and from the manager and now, to get it done and commit myself to this club, is a very special moment and I’m over the moon.

“I’ve now played 50 games for the first team and I’m progressing week-in, week-out, learning from a top manager and top players.

“I’m still young, so to put more years on my contract and keep developing here is the best thing for me to do now. With the support of the manager, the players, everyone, it was the right thing to do.”

Joint chairman David Sullivan added: ““Signing Declan to a new long-term contract is something we have been planning for and working round the clock on and I, the doard, the manager and Declan himself are all very happy that everything has now been completed.

“Finalising contracts takes time but it has always been our intention to keep our best players – particularly those who have come through our Academy – at West Ham United and build our club for the future.

“I finalised the deal on Christmas Day and have been working to get the paperwork done as quickly as possible.”

Rice came through the ranks at Chelsea but, after being released at 14, made the move to the east end and West Ham, where he came to the attention of Ireland scouts.

He played for Republic of Ireland development teams from under-16 to under-21, and he made his senior debut in a friendly defeat to Turkey in March 2018.

In August, Rice was omitted from the Ireland squad for the UEFA Nations League opener against Wales after requesting time to consider his options at international level.