By Noel Whelan

4th Oct, 2021 | 5:00pm

Rice 'knows he's leaving West Ham next year' after transfer comments - pundit

Noel Whelan has claimed Declan Rice knows he will be leaving West Ham at the end of the season.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker suggested the 22-year-old is playing for a move this term.

As quoted by Football.London (29th September), Rice claimed the speculation surrounding his future is not affecting his performances.

He insisted he is happy playing for the Irons and that his only focus is delivering for the club.

As revealed by Football Insider, West Ham are preparing to sell Rice for £90million at the end of the season.

The midfielder has rebuffed a new contract in east London and the club want to cash in while his value is at its highest.

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Whelan insisted Rice is one of the best defensive midfielders in England’s top flight, alongside Ngolo Kante and Kalvin Phillips.

He suggested the West Ham man’s performances would only increase his value and demand ahead of next summer.

Asked if he thought Rice’s comments means he knows he will get a move next year, Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “Yeah, absolutely.

“He is a quality player. In my opinion, one of the three best defensive midfield players in the Premier League. I’m talking Kante, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips.

“In my opinion, the three best that play in that role. What he is doing now is expanding his game even further.

“By getting into that final third and coming up with goals as well, he’s adding more to his game.

“It makes him a more valuable player for West Ham, whatever may come in his future.”

Rice has scored two goals in nine appearances this season, the same amount he netted in 35 games last term.

In other news, ex-manager claims West Ham in transfer talks “right now” after player reveal.