An emotional Declan Rice has seen his Champions League dream with West Ham ended, but manager David Moyes doesn’t think that means he will leave.
The 10-man Hammers failed to make the final of the Europa League with a 1-0 defeat away to Eintracht Frankfurt, losing 3-1 on aggregate to end their incredible European adventure.
A win in the final would have seen the London side qualify for next season’s Champions League, but that dream is now over, with the club 11 points short of a top four finish in the Premier League.
The defeat will inevitably lead to speculation over star England midfielder Rice, with Chelsea and Manchester City now able to offer what West Ham can’t – a spot in Europe’s top tier.
David Moyes’ valuation of his No.41 has bumped up from £100million to £150m after such a successful campaign, but the ambition of trophies and Champions League football could prove tempting.
Moyes, though, doesn’t agree, having been asked if the defeat makes a difference to Rice’s future post match.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think we have a strong team, he’s under contract for over three years.”
Rice wasn’t too happy in defeat however, hitting out at referee Jesus Gil Manzano in his post-match interview.
“Obviously the [Aaron Creswell] sending off was probably a sending off looking back at it, but some of the other decisions were poor tonight,” he said.
“Nothing seemed to go for us. The ref seemed to make every decision go for them, and in the end, when you’ve got someone who’s against you, you can’t really do much.”
Rice compared the defeat to losing the Euro 2020 final with England, and also talked about how he wanted to win for Mark Noble, who he will replace as club captain at the end of the season.
The 23-year-old said: It’s sickening. The lads are gutted. I’m gutted, but I’ve been in this position before. I’ve lost in the European Championship Final and we couldn’t go any lower than that, but this is as low as that as well.
“But I’ve learned from that and the lads need to learn that we will be back. These are great experiences from our careers, and I’m sure we’ll come again.
“There’s something special about West Ham fans. How much they care about you. How much they talk about you. Of course it’s not been plain sailing over the years, but there’s been some light this year in terms of what we’ve done as a team.
“I’m proud to play in front of those fans that cheer and shout my name. I’ve been sent videos of them in the Frankfurt town centre. One of my mate is a West Ham fan who has been to every away game. It’s special.
“We deserve those nights and I’m just gutted. We see Rangers are in the final and what a final that could have been. It was not meant to be.
“These things happen in football. We’ll come again and I want to say a big thank you to the fans for all their support. There are three games to go.
“That [Noble] was on my mind throughout this whole tournament. Him coming to an end and I think he’s got 15 or 16 days to go. He’s won promotions and other things, but this would have topped it off.
“What a career it would have been for him. And that was on my mind throughout this whole tournament, for everything he has done for this Club.
“It wasn’t meant to be. We will go again, and we will make his last game special.”