Kevin Phillips has claimed that West Ham would be “crazy” to let Declan Rice leave the club at the end of the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former England international suggested that if the Hammers avoid relegation, they have to do everything in their power to ensure the 21-year-old doesn’t leave east London.
Manager David Moyes admitted last week that the Irons could end up losing their star man at the end of the campaign, especially if they cannot beat the drop.
But Phillips has outlined just how important it is that Rice stays put.
“It’s a difficult one,” he told Football Insider.
“How do you view it? If you’re the owners do you cash in and get the money?
“Or, if you’re serious about progressing and wanting to finish in that top six, which West Ham certainly are capable of – they’re a big club, big stadium – then the only way you do that is by keeping your best players.
“Declan Rice has emerged as a fantastic midfielder. He hasn’t got loads of experience, but he’s gaining it week in and week out.
“He’s had a dip in form of late, which has coincided with West Ham’s loss of form, and it’s highlighted how important he is more.
“From my point of view, Mark Noble isn’t getting any younger, I think you’d be crazy to let Rice go.
“I think if they got relegated he would certainly want to move on because he would want to stay in the Premier League. If they don’t get relegated, you’ve got to keep hold of the player.”
Rice has been an ever-present for the Hammers in the heart of midfield this season, playing every minute of every Premier League game.
So far he has amassed 96 senior appearances for the Hammers, scoring twice and providing two assists.
In other West Ham news, ‘Last straw for fans’ – Darren Bent reacts to Moyes admission over Hammers star.