By George Overhill

3rd Dec, 2022 | 9:10am

West Ham United star Declan Rice in diplomatic 'come get me' to Chelsea plea with defence of Mason Mount

Mason Mount doing well makes West Ham captain Declan Rice “happy” he said as he defended the under-fire Chelsea attacker who he has been great friends with for years.

Rice’s England teammate has come in for criticism after a below-standard start to the season at club level, which fed into what is seen as ineffective performances at the World Cup, before he was rested for the 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday (29 November).

Rice has also caused a stir with his comments ahead of the last-16 meeting with Senegal, after detailing his wish to win trophies and play in the Champions League, with Chelsea long perceived as favourites if he moves, and his vociferous defence of Mount will do nothing to dampen such speculation after what amounted to a ‘come get me’ plea towards his former side.

He said on Thursday (1 December), as per Football.London: “I don’t need to talk too much about Mase. He probably just doesn’t fit the agenda of what people want an attacking midfield player to look like in this day and age.

“He is one of the best players I’ve played with — and I’m not saying that because he’s my best mate. If you see the way he helps the team, I think that’s why Gareth is so keen on him and picks him all the time.

“Not only with the ball, his quality he shows in abundance for England and Chelsea, but the way he is off the ball: you don’t see many number 10s who have that together. He is such a team player, such a hard-working, honest guy.

“Sometimes fans, people online, social media, they just don’t like him. For what reason I honestly don’t know. But, look, his numbers for Chelsea are incredible.

“He’s won the Champions League, won the Super Cup, at such a young age and for the rest of his career, he can go on and be whatever he wants to be. And I know he doesn’t let that noise get to him.

“Look, let Mase go and do his thing. When he’s doing that it makes me happy seeing my good friend go and perform at the best level.”

Come get me

It’s well known that Rice and Mount are friends, and while the Hammers captain answers the questions that are put to him, he will know that his words carry a lot of weight.

Ultimately most will acknowledge that his hopes for his career won’t be fulfilled until he’s played in the Champions League, and challenged for silverware.

That is not impossible at West Ham, but it is further off than it would be at one of a number of clubs that have made quite clear they would like to give him that opportunity.

His unfinished business at Chelsea, and his close friendship with Mount, understandably are likely to put them at the top of his list if he is to leave the London Stadium.

And while a lot of the Irons support will be unhappy at that prospect, it can still easily mean he has nothing but positive feelings towards the club and his career in the East London.

But he has chosen the moment when he is arguably in the biggest spotlight this year, ahead of England’s first knockout tie at the World Cup, to both address his future and praise Chelsea’s Mount at length.

It won’t have gone unnoticed that he used winning trophies at a young age as part of his defence of the Blues man, and it isn’t hard to see Mount as the player for which he is most envious, having shared the same path with him at Cobham until the age of 14.

His words on Thursday could easily have come from the mouth of Graham Potter in diplomatically yet glowingly backing his friend, and the Stamford Bridge boss, as well as transfer-happy owner Todd Boehly, are sure to not have missed them.

Had the summer transfer arrivals in Stratford pushed West Ham over the hump and into the top four conversation in a big way this year there would be a strong argument to say Rice stays, but amid a difficult start to the season that has David Moyes’ job under threat it now looks unlikely.

The Hammers skipper is both an honest and earnest guy, and he looks to be making his feelings about as clear as he can without crossing the line into being disrespectful to his current fanbase, some of whom believe he has already crossed it.

There will be a fair amount of West Ham supporters who won’t begrudge Rice a move, but you’d be hard pressed to find many who are ambivalent about him heading for West London, yet it is hard to avoid the conclusion that is what the man himself is after.