Declan Rice ‘could leave in January’ - West Ham and Liverpool insider on Anfield transfer link

Goalkeeper David James does not believe his old club would stand in the way of a move to Anfield if the price is right.

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice stopped short of making a verbal transfer request during his England press conference in Qatar this week - but only just.

Speaking ahead of the Three Lions’ last-16 clash with Senegal, the 23-year-old was asked if his World Cup experience had further whetted his appetite to rub shoulders with football’s elite on a regular basis.

The Liverpool-linked midfielder responded unequivocally: "100% I want to play in the Champions League. For the last two or three years, I’ve been saying that. I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing.”

It seems unlikely that Rice will compete in Europe’s elite club competition with West Ham and the midfielder, who has reportedly turned down a new contract to extend his stay at the London side beyond June 2024, hinted as much.

“You only get one career and at the end, you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in,” Rice said.

His comments have piqued the interest of a number of clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, that a January transfer deal might be possible. And former Liverpool and West Ham goalkeeper David James believes that could be the case - if the price is right. A fee of £100 million has been mooted.

“I don’t think West Ham would stand in his way if the opportunity arrives for him to join a Champions League competing team,” James told GGrecon. “I’d like to think that he wouldn’t want to force himself out of West Ham. I believe it would come down to an open and realistic conversation.”

“Theoretically, he could leave in January depending on how amazing a World Cup he has. If he’s to leave, then it has to be for market value. I can’t see West Ham selling him for less at all.”

England midfielder Declan Rice gives a press conference at the World Cup. Image: NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images

“When you have that talent, the idea of him joining somebody like Liverpool and playing in the Champions League means that you can look back at your career knowing that you’ve challenged for, and won, major trophies.

“The fan in me just wants him to stay at West Ham for the rest of his career. The player side of me believes you need to maximise everything you can get from the game.”

Liverpool are expected to bolster their midfield options in the summer transfer window, with Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all out of contract as things stand.