By Derek Smithson
West Ham defender Declan Rice has admitted that he may be looking for a loan move next season to continue his development.
The 18-year-old is a highly rated talent at the London Stadium and won the club’s Young Hammer of the Year last season.
He is being tipped to become a future star for the Hammers and was handed his senior debut away to Burnley on the final day of the Premier League season.
The Irish centre-back played a crucial role during the last campaign for West Ham’s Under-23s side as they achieved promotion from their division.
Rice has revealed that he may now be looking for regular first team football elsewhere, with the Championship or League One mentioned as potential destinations.
“Obviously we’ll see what happens, but it might be my time to go out on loan next season and have a good challenge while getting senior experience,” Rice said, as quoted by the club’s official website. “Playing either in the Championship or League One has to be the aim.
“It would be a perfect way to gain experience and learn. That’s definitely the aim if I can’t break into the first team on a regular basis.”
West Ham have a good reputation of developing young stars and will be hopeful that they have unearthed another star.
The defender does face tough competition for next season if he is to make the breakthrough into Slaven Bilic’s senior squad.
Winston Reid, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna and Jose Fonte are all considered as senior centre-back options, but Rice could be encourage by the three-man defensive system used commonly last season.
Reece Oxford is another product of the Hammers academy and the 18-year-old spent part of last year out on loan at Reading, something Rice may look to emulate.
In other West Ham transfer news, they are looking to offload their £37,000-a-week attacker.