Former West Ham striker Carlton Cole is adamant Declan Rice will stay at the club beyond the end of the season and has backed them to finish above suitors Manchester United in the Premier League.
West Ham have slapped a £150million price tag on the 23-year-old, who is already the subject of an intense transfer battle prior to the window opening in June.
Man United are the leading suitors for Rice as they look to replace Paul Pogba, who will leave Old Trafford on a free transfer in the summer. Chelsea had been in the hunt but are now unable to buy players after the Government’s sanctioning of owner Roman Abramovich.
Carlton Cole believes West Ham star Carlton Cole (above) will stay at the club this summer
West Ham have slapped a £150million price tag on the 23-year-old England midfielder
The Hammers sit two points behind the Red Devils in the table and have played a game more.
But speaking at an event organised by Bookmakers.com, Cole backed David Moyes’ men to finish above Ralf Rangnick’s side, an achievement which the 38-year-old believes would ‘end the conversation’ around Rice’s club future.
‘Where is he going? I just can’t see him going anywhere and [clubs] affording the price,’ West Ham academy coach Cole told Sportsmail.
‘I don’t think Chelsea can do it at the moment for obvious reasons for this season. Where else is he going to go? Man United? No, they aren’t in a good place at the moment either. Why go to Man United when you can stay at West Ham?
Cole has backed the Hammers to finish above suitors Man United and end speculation about Rice’s future
‘We’ll finish above Man United and what are you gonna say then? Nothing, you can’t just go and get our best players. We’ll finish above Man United and no one is going to stay anything. He is gonna stay at the best club possible.
‘Especially if they bring somebody else in that compliments his style, you’ve got [Tomas] Soucek there, bring another striker in and all of this conversation will be done at the end of the season.
‘I don’t see a reason why he [Rice] should want to leave. He is not the sort of guy that is going to be chasing after money, otherwise he’d have done that by now.
‘He knows his home truths, he knows exactly what he needs to do and that is play regular football, and he is doing that at West Ham and he is the main man.’
Julian Dicks also championed the club’s hopes of holding on to the England star, who made his debut when the former Hammers defender was a first-team coach under ex-boss Slaven Bilic.
Former Hammers coach Julian Dicks also believes the Hammers can convince Rice to stay
But the 53-year-old warned the club’s owners the 23-year-old will only stick around if there is significant investment in the squad in the upcoming transfer window.
‘I’d like to think so [West Ham can convince him to stay],’ Dicks said. ‘He’s a great kid. For me, it is about Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan investing in the team for next season, because it can’t be about money for these players now.
‘It is about moving clubs to win trophies so West Ham need to invest and invest heavily and bring in some top, top players to build a team around Declan and one or two others. If they are willing to do that, I can see Declan staying.
‘He loves the club, so now it is about winning trophies. It is about trying to win the Premier League. People might laugh at me, but no one expected Leicester to win it [in 2016], so there’s no reason why West Ham can’t do that in the next two or three seasons.
But he warned co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan to invest significantly in the window
‘People aren’t gonna hang around for seven seasons. People like Declan are going to want to be progressing and be in the Champions League. But you can only do that with a big, big, big investment.
‘West Ham are a great club with great tradition. Hopefully the glory days aren’t far from coming back.’
Cole also heaped praise on forward Andriy Yarmolenko amid Russia’s invasion of the country, describing the as the ‘shining beacon of love’ in David Moyes’ squad.
‘Yarmolenko has been a pleasure,’ Cole added.
‘What is happening in Ukraine… is just crazy for anybody that’s listening and looking on what’s going over there. It is diabolical what is happening. He’s going through it at the moment and we are there as a club to support him.
Cole also paid tribute to Andriy Yarmolenko (above) as the ‘shining beacon of love’ at the club
‘He hasn’t had the cleanest of careers at West Ham but you can see everyone has got behind him and he is part of that momentum.
‘He feels the love that we are giving him. He has been a pleasure to watch and the winner that he scored [against Sevilla in the Europa League] was brilliant.
‘We are all behind him and the energy that we’re showing is why he’s getting the rub of the green and things are going his way on the field at the moment, because he deserves it.
‘The football gods will always reward you when things are going wrong for you if it is just. He is the shining beacon and the shining example of love, and that is what we are giving him right now.’