West Ham United manager David Moyes has come to the defence of midfielder Declan Rice after former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Roy Keane questioned whether the 24-year-old has done enough to earn a big-money move. Rice is expected to leave West Ham at the end of the season, with Arsenal reportedly making him their top summer transfer target. Chelsea and Manchester United have also been linked with the England international, but Keane aired his concerns over his progression this season, stating that he has not kicked on and needs to do more.
Moyes, however, disagreed with Keane’s assessment of Rice, insisting that he has shown the qualities needed to be a future England captain. “I think Declan [Rice] has played really well for us,” Moyes said at a press conference on Friday. “For a young player to have what 40 England caps at his age. No doubt he is going to go on and be an England captain in the future, or I think so. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. I think he’s played really, really well and I think he’s going to go on and be a top player. Hopefully that will be with West Ham, that would be our choice. We would like it to be here. I believe he will go on to be a really good player.”
Moyes also acknowledged Keane’s expertise in identifying good players, given his own experience as one of the best midfielders of his generation. “What I will say is Roy Keane was probably the best midfield player of his generation and he can certainly spot a good player because he played that position incredible well over many, many years.”
Rice has been a key player for West Ham this season, making 29 appearances in all competitions and scoring two goals. He has also been a regular for the England national team, earning 15 caps in 2020 alone and being named as the Young Player of the Year at the Football Association of Ireland awards in December.
Despite his impressive performances, however, Rice’s future at West Ham remains uncertain. The club are currently in fifth place in the Premier League table, just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, but they have struggled for consistency this season and have lost their last two games in all competitions. With Arsenal reportedly willing to pay up to £80m for Rice’s services, West Ham may find it difficult to keep hold of their star midfielder in the summer.
For now, however, Moyes is focused on getting the best out of Rice for the remainder of the season and helping West Ham achieve their goals. “We’re really pleased with him,” Moyes said. “We think he’s doing great for us and we want him to continue doing that.”