By Wayne Veysey

21st Nov, 2022 | 7:01am

Sources: Liverpool set sights on Declan Rice amid 'huge' Jurgen Klopp claim

Liverpool will be closely monitoring West Ham star Declan Rice and how he reacts to the big-game World Cup pressure, sources have told Football Insider.

The Merseysiders are in the market for a marquee midfield signing going into next year, with Rice’s England teammate Jude Bellingham a top target.

But Liverpool also have a strong interest in Rice amid the likelihood there will be slightly less elite-club competition for his signature.

The Hammers star man, 23, is expected to start for England alongside Bellingham in central midfield for their World Cup opener against Iran on Monday afternoon.

Rice will operate in a deeper role screening the defence, while the Borussia Dortmund superstar is likely to have more freedom to support the attacks.

Liverpool’s recruitment team will be watching both players closely.

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One intriguing area will be how Rice copes with the type of scrutiny and huge-game pressure he does not get at West Ham, who do not compete in the Champions League or challenge for trophies.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is a “huge” admirer of the Chelsea academy product and believes he would be a perfect fit for his team.

The Merseysiders were interested in Rice going into the recent summer window but owners Fenway Sports Group would not have given Klopp the funds for a mega deal.

West Ham wanted £100million for the England star in the summer of 2021 and then David Moyes insisted at his media conference in April that the price tag had rocketed and “£150m just now would be minimum”.

That was enough to temporarily put off the Premier League elite from making a move.

But Rice’s price tag is falling as he will enter the final 18 months of his contract in the new year.

His current deal with the Irons runs until the summer of 2024 and the club have the option of another 12 months.

The midfielder has showed no interest in extending it and notably rejected a blockbuster offer worth £200,000-a-week earlier this year.

Rice has taken his game to a new level at West Ham over the last year, not only protecting his side’s defence but also driving his team forward from the centre of the pitch.

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