West Ham United manager David Moyes has confirmed talk of young defender Declan Rice getting a new contract is indeed true as his side prepares to take on Manchester City in the Premier League at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Rice has made almost 30 senior appearances this season despite only being 19 years of age and has excelled in the Premier League, playing on 23 occasions with many of them being starts.
His boss Moyes responded to a question about the speculation at his pre-Manchester City press conference at Rush Green training ground on Friday by having this to say.
“We are due to renew Declan Rice’s contract as, if he played a certain amount of games in the Premier League, it will be due for renewal and we’ll do that.
“We won’t bother ourselves with that just now, though, as we have some important matches to play. We’ll do it at the end of the season,” announced the former Manchester United gaffer.
“Dec has done very well and made good progress. I think that to be a young centre-half in the Premier League is very difficult.
“There aren’t many clubs playing 19-year-old centre-halves so, from that point of view, he’s doing great. We are really pleased with his development and that will continue over the next couple of years.
“Being criticised when you make mistakes is part of football. You can’t always be getting a pat on the back. If you make mistakes, then you’ll be told.
“It was a poor decision to duck out of the way of Aaron Ramsey’s cross at the time but it’s out of the way now, we’re over it, Dec accepted it as well and you hope in the long term he gets better from it.”
The experienced manager’s finishing statement referred to the error that the youngster made during last Sunday’s league defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
With the scores evenly poised at 1-1 in the final ten minutes, the Republic of Ireland International left a routine Ramsey cross for his goalkeeper Joe Hart, only to realise that he wasn’t waiting to collect the ball and allowing it to find the far corner, the first of three late goals for the Gunners to blow the Hammers away.
In midweek, Rice picked up the Young Hammer of the Year Award for the second season in succession for his outstanding contribution of many cool, calm and collected displays at the back.
Perhaps even more significantly, such is the bond between Rice and the Claret & Blue Army that the starlet finished runner-up on the club’s Player of the Season, the Hammer of the Year, which was won by Marko Arnautovic.
The Irons go into this weekend’s tricky encounter with the champions City, just six points above the relegation zone with four matches left to play and in desperate need of an elusive three points to move them closer to the fabled safety mark of 40 points.
Before the Gunners’ loss, they had been unbeaten in three matches in the PL and having already summoned Irons fans to help the club to cause a shock against Blue Moon, here were Moyes’ thoughts on facing the team that are top of the pile, later in the press conference.
“I don’t know if there is any good time to play Manchester City, the form they are in, the players they have got available and the quality of those players, but we have to play them all twice and we will do everything we can to give them a game and make it as tough as we can.
“The objective is to try and take all the points as we are really keen to get the win to ensure our future in the Premier League.”
The man who took over in East London from Slaven Bilic in November 2017 continued, “we knew after we beat Southampton a few ago that we were going into games against some of the top teams like Arsenal and Manchester City and, like a lot of the teams at this time of the season, we all have a lot of tough games, but it’s up to us to rise to the occasion and try to win them.”
Pep Guardiola’s men secured the title two weeks ago when West Bromwich Albion upset the Red Devils at Old Trafford and have shown no signs of taking their foot off the gas since, thrashing Swansea City 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium last weekend.
You can follow the pivotal Premier League clash between David Moyes’ West Ham United and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City live right here on West Ham Matters as we bring you a Live Blog, featuring live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction from the encounter, live from the London Stadium Press Box and starting at 12:15 PM BST on Sunday afternoon.