Forgotten wonderkid was 'better than Declan Rice at West Ham' but is now worth just €5.5m
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Declan Rice was not the most talented player coming through the ranks at West Ham. It was another midfielder, who is now worth just €5.5million (£4.7million).
The deal eclipses the £72million the Gunners paid for Nicolas Pepe four years ago, while it is also a record transfer fee between two British clubs.
However, Rice’s signing is just short of the British transfer record, with Chelsea having paid Benfica £106.8million for midfielder Enzo Fernandez in January.
The 24-year-old has signed a five-year deal at Arsenal which runs until 2028, with the option of a further year, while the move ends the midfielder’s decade-long association at West Ham.
Rice rose from the Hammers youth team to become the club’s third-ever captain to lift major silverware, after Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds.
However, though he has developed into one of the world’s best midfielders, Rice’s path to the West Ham first team was not smooth.
As per the Athletic, Reece Oxford was widely considered the outstanding talent in the West Ham academy, having announced himself on the scene as a 16-year-old with a starring role as West Ham beat Arsenal 2-0 in 2015.
Furthermore, other prospects received their professional deals before Rice, and at the time there was growing concern among Rice’s camp that he was going to be released for a second time, having previously been let go by Chelsea.
Former West Ham trainee Lewis Page, now of Gillingham told the Athletic: “I remember having a conversation with him after dinner. Dec wasn’t sure if he was going to get a scholarship with West Ham.
“He got released by Chelsea and he was worried it was going to happen again. I was always confident he was going to get one, but at the time the club weren’t sure what was Dec’s best position.
“Reece was the main talent at centre-back and I’m not sure if the club thought Dec was good enough to play in midfield. You had Josh Cullen and Ben Marlow who were ahead of him. But West Ham took the chance and it’s paid off ever since.”
Of course, Rice is now the most expensive British player in history (provided he performs well enough for his £5million add-ons to be met). Meanwhile, Transfermarkt values Oxford at £4.7million.