By Anthony Onifade

16th May, 2023 | 1:10pm

James Collins shares verdict on 'incredible' Declan Rice as West Ham United summer transfer exit nears

Former West Ham United defender James Collins admits the club won’t be able to stand in Declan Rice’s way should he wish to join a bigger team this summer.

The Hammers are resigned to losing their key man this summer with the England international intent on playing Champions League football next season, and London neighbours Arsenal and Chelsea have constantly been touted as the most interested parties.

And it is believed that West Ham United are holding out for a fee probably surpassing the price Chelsea paid to sign Enzo Fernandez during the January window.

And Collins speaking to talkSPORT [13 May] that any move for Rice must be done in the right way.

Asked if Rice is likely to leave this summer, he said: “Yeah, it looks that way.

“You know, Dec’s been an incredible servant to West Ham United, he’s our best player and is the talisman for our football club but he’s a wanted man.

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“He’s played in the England team, he’ll be England captain one day and he wants to win trophies and a player of that calibre who is gonna move onto one of the bigger teams, you can’t stand in his way sometimes.

“Everyone at West Ham will be sad to see him go but as long as it’s done in the right way and he moves to one of the bigger clubs, everyone will be happy for him.”

Exit draws nearer

West Ham United will have to be bullish in their price tag demands for Rice’s services this summer with the England international looking set to leave London Stadium and also on the lookout for a better opportunity at a top club.

Collins is absolutely right, Rice has indeed been an incredible servant at the club but those at the top and in the West Ham United management knew this day would come.

The 24-year-old has become an international superstar and has emerged as one of the best of his position on the continent so the increasing interest in his services is inevitable.

However, given the number of top clubs circling for his signature, that does not mean should wallow and shirk under the pressure to let him go. He still holds a contract until 2025 which means the Irons hold all the cards surrounding the price he can leave for.

£100-£120m certainly seems reasonable and with the Irons looking to undergo a stark rebuild of their own this summer, they’ll need as much cash as possible if they are to compete both in recruitment and amongst the elite again in the Premier League next term.