NEWCASTLE UNITED intend to be part of the battle for Declan Rice after West Ham United chairman David Sullivan confirmed the England international would be moving on this summer in the wake of his side’s historic triumph in the Europa Conference League final.

Rice became only the third Hammers skipper to lift a major trophy, following Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds, when his side claimed a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in Prague on Wednesday evening, but a gentleman’s agreement means he will be leaving the London Stadium this summer.

The midfielder, who has two years remaining on his contract – one year plus an option, is one of the hottest properties in the Premier League thanks to his consistently impressive performances with both West Ham and England over the last few years.

Newcastle’s recruitment team would love to take him to St James’ Park, with a new central midfielder a key priority for head coach Eddie Howe this summer. The Magpies are keen to hold talks with Rice and his representatives, but while the promise of Champions League football will help to bolster their case, there is an acceptance that some significant obstacles would have to be overcome if the 24-year-old was to find himself moving to Tyneside.

Financial issues are a major barrier to any deal, with the Newcastle hierarchy adamant they will not be significantly altering the current wage structure that sees the club’s highest-paid player earning around £120,000-a-week. Rice’s representatives are understood to be demanding around £250,000-a-week, which creates a major shortfall.

Even if the financial hurdles could be overcome, Newcastle would still have to beat off competition from some of the leading sides in England and Europe, with Arsenal understood to be leading the race for the midfielder’s services. The Gunners have been targeting Rice for a number of years, and have already prepared much of the groundwork for a formal bid of around £90m.


In the wake of West Ham’s European success, Sullivan has confirmed Rice will be allowed to leave. Asked whether lifting the trophy in Prague was the captain’s last action as a West Ham player, Sullivan told talkSPORT: “I think it has to be. We promised him he could go.

“He set his heart on going and in due course he has to get on and we have to get a replacement. It is not something we wanted to happen. We offered him £200,000-a-week 18 months ago and he turned it down. You can’t keep a player who doesn’t want to be there.

“I think the offers will start to come today. Three or four clubs have shown interest but, out of respect to West Ham, while we’re still playing, you don’t make offers for players.”

Rice said after the game that it was “not goodbye yet”. He added on BT Sport: “Look, at the moment, there’s a lot of speculation about my future. There is interest from other clubs, that’s out there, but ultimately, I’ve still got two years left at West Ham.

The Northern Echo: Declan Rice celebrates with the UEFA Conference League trophyDeclan Rice celebrates with the UEFA Conference League trophy (Image: PA)

“There hasn’t been nothing yet (offers). Let’s wait and see, who knows. I love every minute of it here, you can see the smile on my face. It’s not about that tonight, it’s about celebrating and that’s what I’m going to do now.”

Sullivan also confirmed that there were no plans to dispense with the services of manager David Moyes after a rocky season ended on a high.

“We believed in him. We were under a lot of pressure from supporters, the press, everyone to make changes but we believe in honouring contracts,” he added. “David has a contract with us until next summer and next summer we will look at it again. Until then, as long as he wants to remain manger, he will remain manager at West Ham.”