By Gabriel Agbonlahor

5th Nov, 2021 | 7:00am

West Ham tipped to agree Declan Rice contract as new twist reported - pundit

Declan Rice is a “world-class” player but will only sign a new West Ham contract if they qualify for the Champions League, according to Gabby Agbonlahor.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Aston Villa and England attacker claimed West Ham have their best-ever chance of breaking into the top four.

They currently sit three points clear of fifth-place Man United after their 4-1 thumping of Villa at the weekend.

Claret and Hugh reported (November 2) the club have parked contract negotiations with Rice until the end of the season.

“He’ll love it there,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.

“For me, it’s a similar situation to Jack Grealish. Loves the club, loves playing there and enjoys his football but if you’re not getting into the Champions League, he’s going to leave. West Ham will have to sell him in the next couple of seasons.

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“He won’t want to play in the Europa League, he’ll want to be in the big boy competitions with the likes of the Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool players.

“He starts for England, he’s a world-class midfielder. West Ham have now got a season to get into the top-four to keep him. If West Ham don’t get into the top-four this season then Declan Rice probably wants to move on to bigger things.

“It’s a shame because he suits that team, he loves his football but I can’t see him signing a new contract unless they are in the Champions League.

“They could do that this season. West Ham have been doing well, they should fancy themselves.

“They’re probably the fourth-best team in the league on current form.

“They have been flirting with fourth and I think it’s time, as a club with the squad they’ve got, they’ve got to look at getting into the top-four because it’s the best chance they’ll get.”

In other news, a West Ham January signing spree has been tipped after a £150million Times update.