By Adefunmiloye Alani

10th Jun, 2021 | 8:40am

West Ham's Declan Rice relishing battle with Luka Modric

England kick off their European Championship campaign with Croatia on Sunday and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is raring to go.

The 22-year-old is expected to retain his place in the starting line-up and will be coming up against Real Madrid legend Luka Modric during the opener.

The 2018 Ballon d’Or is one of the best midfielders to ever grace a football pitch, with two La Liga titles and four Champions League winners’ medals to his name.

Rice is not bothered, though, and the Hammers star cannot wait for their battle in the middle of the park.

Modric ran the show as Croatia secured a victory over the Three Lions in the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup, and Rice is now looking to stop him.

“Then, I was miles away from Modric,” the West Ham midfielder said, as quoted by The Times.

“But I’ve got stronger, bigger, more confident and I really want to put myself up against him. He’s a world class player but it doesn’t faze me at all.

“And hopefully as we progress, we start to face the top, top teams, the world-class teams like France. You always want to play against those players.”

Big-game player

Dec has always turned up in the biggest games for both club and country, and we are backing him to do so on Sunday.

His battle against arguably the greatest Croatian footballer of all time will be keen to watch, and not many will be surprised should he come out on top.

The Hammers midfield sensation has just four seasons under his belt as a professional, and while coming up against someone with 18 full seasons in the game should bother him, that is not expected to happen.

Chelsea and other suitors will be keeping an eye on Rice during the tournament, and they will be watching the Croatia game with keen interest.

West Ham could have a huge battle on their hands after the tournament if, as expected, the midfielder has a fine Euros campaign, and more bigwigs home and abroad could come calling.

We do not want the club to cash in on Rice anytime soon, but holding on to such a brilliant player could prove very difficult going forward if we cannot offer him Champions League football.

In other West Ham news, club are ready to sell striker for £26m, Hammers want him.

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