Declan Rice 'proud' of West Ham efforts despite Europa League heartbreak

06 May 2022 01:15

West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has said he is ‘proud of everyone’ in the squad after falling agonisingly short of reaching the Europa League final on Thursday night.

The Hammers, who last reached a major European final in 1976, were beaten 3-1 on aggregate by Eintracht Frankfurt but were never completely out of the tie despite playing more than three quarters of the second leg with ten players following Aaron Cresswell’s early red card.

“We're gutted. We've come so far as a group and given everything this year. We're not the biggest of squads, to keep playing week-in week-out after 50 games,” Rice told BT Sport.

"Proud as well, to go down to ten men and put in that shift. Many teams would lose [by] three or four, but we showed what West Ham is about. We fight to the end. I'm gutted, but also proud of everyone,” he continued.

“We've come so far. Nobody expected West Ham to be here. Nobody expected us to get past Sevilla and Lyon, but we had genuine belief that we could do it. The boys went out on a high even though we lost. We'll be back and this club deserves more.”

West Ham have three remaining Premier League fixtures against Norwich, Manchester City and Brighton to ensure they will be playing European football again next season. The Europa League places are likely already out of reach, but the Hammers currently occupy the Europa Conference League qualifying berth and have a three-point cushion over challengers Wolves.

Listen now to 90min's brand new podcast, Talking Transfers, with Scott Saunders &Graeme Bailey. On this week's show they are joined by Toby Cudworth and discuss the interest in Aurelien Tchouameni, as well the contract situations of Sadio Mane, Reece James, Pep Guardiola & Kylian Mbappe, and updates on Marcus Rashford.

Whether Rice will still be at the club remains another issue. 90min understands that the England midfielder does not plan to sign a new contract with West Ham beyond his current deal expiring in 2024 and will consider leaving this summer.

Rice’s representatives made it clear to West Ham in April that he is ready to move on in pursuit of Champions League football and competing for trophies. Sources have told 90min that while the club publicly value him at £150m, an offer closer to £120m would likely be accepted.

Manchester United are prepared to break their transfer record, currently £89m, to take the 23-year-old to Old Trafford.

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Source: 90min