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West Ham need to be offering a new contract to Declan Rice and making him a “bedrock” of their team, says Tony Cottee, with the Hammers warned that a midfielder attracting plenty of interest from Chelsea could decide to run his deal down and walk away on a free.
With another transfer window open, talk of a potential switch to Stamford Bridge– where Rice has previously spent time in the academy system – has resurfaced.
West Ham have no intention of parting with a prized asset, but their hand may be forced if a tempting bid is put on the table and the head of the highly-rated England international is turned.
Cottee wants to see that threat extinguished with the agreeing of fresh terms, with experienced manager David Moyes another of those that is deserving of future discussions in east London.
Hammers legend Cottee told The Sun: “As far as I’m concerned the only two signings to be bothered about are David Moyes and Declan.
“I’m pretty sure that even now, with his elevated status, Dec will not be earning the same kind of money as the top men in the squad.
“But he’s their most valuable player and in time will become the next captain after Mark Noble.
“I know he signed a five-year deal not so long ago but get him tied down and up there with the bigger earners and make him a bedrock of the future team.
“We all know other teams are interested.West Ham should be acting to secure Declan, so he is not allowed to drift into the last two years of his contract and possibly leave on a free transfer.”
The Hammers have been making positive progress in 2020-21, as they sit 10th in the Premier League table, but their manager is only tied down until the end of the season and Cottee wants that situation to be addressed.
The former frontman added: “I assume David is going to try to sign players during this transfer window on three or four-year deals.
“As a player, I would find it a bit unsettling signing for a coach who could be gone by the summer.
“It’s baffling why something hasn’t been done already to get Moyes tied down to a new deal. Moyes is building a team. I like what he is doing, he has proven to be a good fit.
“West Hamshould be moving slowly and steadily in one direction, upwards. The yo-yoing needs to stop.