Declan Rice wants European football and Jesse Lingard at West Ham next season
West Ham beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Sunday afternoon and moved into the top four, two points clear of Chelsea in fifth place.
The Hammers are on a run of just one league defeat in 12 matches, second only to league leaders, and next opponents, Manchester City in the 2021 form table and a European spot is well within their sights.
Manager David Moyes has consistently played down the clubs’ chances of qualifying not for the Champions League but Europe in general, however after the Spurs win even he could not help but admit : “I’m really hoping we can get into one of the European competitions.”
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One theme that has been running through the club of late is the squad’s aim to get to single-figure games remaining and to still be in touch with the teams at the top. Moyes and midfielder Jarrod Bowen, both mentioned the topic last week and midfielder Declan Rice is on board.
“The next four games are going to define that [European qualification] for us,” Rice told talkSPORT. “We have [Manchester] City, then Leeds, then [Manchester] United and then Arsenal.
“Four massive games so if we can get through those and pick up a good amount of points then who knows?
“We will be down to single figure [games] and we will be able to start counting down and see how much longer we have to go.”
The 22-year-old was asked if, despite Moyes saying they had ‘no chance of Champions League places’, the players aiming for the top-four and qualification for Europe’s premier club competition.
He replied: “Oh yeah, 100%… definitely. I think it would be wrong to sit here and say that’s not something I’m thinking about. I want to be in those places now.
“This club, that’s where it deserves to be. It is a massive club, We have the quality and that’s where we need to be pushing.”.
One man the 22-year-old wants alongside him at West Ham next season is January loan signing Jesse Lingard.
The Manchester United man has come in and been outstanding for The Hammers. He has notched three goals and one assist in his four games and picked up two man-of-the-match awards along the way.
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“He is a ridiculously top, top player,” Rice said. “You know when you are playing with a top player, he takes the ball on the half-turn, he takes the ball in tight areas and relieves the pressure off you and when you give him the ball on the pitch you know he’s going to do something with it.
“And what comes with him is a great personality as well,the lads have taken to him and I’m so happy we’ve got him here now at West Ham and hopefully we can do that for much longer with next season as well.”
Securing European football next season will go some way to persuading Lingard that the London Stadium should be his new permanent home and quell the consistent rumours that Rice will be on his way as well.