Declan Rice has reached the milestone of 200 Premier League appearances for West Ham, in the hope there will be plenty more.

I will start with what an exceptional achievement it is for Declan to reach the milestone of 200 for our great football club. I say ‘our’ club, I truly think that term applies to him as that is what I know West Ham means to him – which makes the rumours about him leaving and (likely) departure so saddening.

To remember his debut, coming on as a substitute in our 2-1 win away at Burnley, on the last game of a fairly disastrous (West Ham normality) season in May 2017 to watching him get into the England side and become a mainstay and compete against the worlds best in every major tournament he has played a part of, should make us all proud as a fanbase.

This season, he has taken over the club captaincy from Nobes and I am sure this has been a huge honour for him personally, but we all know we face an upward struggle to keep him this summer but this all very much depends on what division we will be playing in next season. It is with much regret we have had a season like this (excluding our European form) which has done us, as a club, no favours whatsoever in convincing our prized asset to stay beyond this term.

I am of the opinion, like of many of us, that this is down to the manager we have in place and his negative way of setting the team up when so clearly to all of us, players are either tired from the amount of games played, should have been dropped due to performance levels or just a team in need of a simple rotation at times of struggle – all of this has ultimately resulted in our lack of chances to really push on over the last 18 months, although we should always remain grateful to Moyes for the memories he has allowed us to create.

Considering our proud (and somewhat topsy turvy) history throughout my lifetime and beyond, players like Rice do come and go but to have such an elite level of player at our disposal after spending the most money on incoming players we ever have in a transfer window – it perhaps should be seen as a missed opportunity  if we were to sell Rice this summer even if the ‘larger’ clubs are circling.

But there is still hope……

To see him supporting our youth team at the FA youth cup final last week just shows how much this club means to him – please West Ham… stay up, win the conference league, appoint a young progressive manager and continue to build a team around this guy and I am confident our fortunes will change and we can enjoy 41 Rice walking out and leading our club on and off the pitch for years to come.

Written by John Gibbins