By Sean Fisher

2nd Dec, 2022 | 1:10pm

Declan Rice hailed by journalist for 'refreshing' comments on West Ham United exit

Declan Rice spoke bluntly about wanting to play in the Champions League this week, sparking more rumours about a possible West Ham exit.

Rice is currently with England in Qatar for the World Cup, where he is one of the few players in the squad yet to have featured in the Champions League.

During his latest press conference for the Three Lions, the 23-year-old admitted: “One hundred per cent I want to play in the Champions League.

“I see my friends here who are playing Champions League and for big trophies. You only get one career and at the end, you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in.”

Rice’s comments suggest he’s willing to look outside of east London in order to play on Europe’s biggest stage. The Hammers captain has come under fire for the poor timing of his quotes, but The Mirror chief football writer John Cross has supported the England midfielder for his “refreshing” honesty.

“Every West Ham fan expects him to go anyway and most probably wish him well because they think he’s a great bloke, has given everything for the club but now the time has come to move on,” wrote Cross.

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“It’s hardly Paul Ince putting on a Manchester United shirt while still at West Ham. 

“It’s such a fair question because Rice has played brilliantly for England, he has shown once again he belongs on the biggest stage and it’s refreshing to have real honesty.”

Not the time

Unlike other international tournaments – which have taken place during transfer windows – Rice has spoke about his West Ham exit midway through a Premier League season.

The January transfer window is coming up but it’d be a huge shock if the Hammers let him leave next month.

Instead, Rice will now have to own his words for the second half of the season. It’s no secret that he was probably going to move on in the summer, but publicly discussing it is completely different.

Plus, West Ham have enough problems as things are at the moment. The club sit down in 16th after a poor start to the league campaign, and inviting more rumours and speculation about the captain’s future is just nonsensical.

Rice is a very honest and straightforward player, but he knew exactly what he was doing with his comments this week. The timing of his come-get-me plea to Champions League sides has put West Ham on the back foot, and it’ll only worsen as the season progresses.