Harmonious Divorce: Declan Rice Is Showing How To Leave A Club With Grace

Declan Rice looks set to leave West Ham United this summer
12:01, 24 May 2023

Declan Rice is likely to part ways with West Ham United this summer. He has one year left on his current contract with an option for a further year, but as he wandered around the London Stadium after West Ham’s final home game of the season it looked like his final farewell to the fans. 

Rice still has the chance to cap off his West Ham time with a European trophy, which would be a fitting ending to the club he has been associated with since 2014. But if he does depart this summer, likely for a team playing in the Champions League, he goes with the well wishes of every Hammers fan that has sung his name over the years. 

He’s their captain. The beating heart of their team. But even the most loyal West Ham fan wouldn’t begrudge Rice the opportunity of playing at the very highest level whilst doubling or even tripling his current salary. We’d all love for our best players to stay at the club for eternity but unfortunately that isn’t the reality. What we can hope for is that when they do decide to move on, they do so with respect and dignity. 


Rice has ticked both of those boxes and although the West Ham fans chanted ‘one more year’ at him, more in hope than expectation, it does look like this particular chapter of his career is coming to an end. There’s been a few examples of a Premier League player leaving with the goodwill of an entire fanbase. 

Manchester United were gutted to lose Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009, but they got another year out of him, a Premier League title and reached the Champions League final in the process. The £80m they received, a world record fee at the time, was accepted and the club shook hands with Ronaldo, and moved on.

His name was still sung at Old Trafford and had it not been for a ill-judged second spell, he would have been regarded as a true United great. Gareth Bale left Tottenham Hotspur in similar circumstances, with the lure of Real Madrid too strong to deny while Spurs fans also lost Luka Modric in harmonious circumstances to Los Blancos. 

Perhaps these peaceful partings are more common when one of the clubs is gargantuan compared to the other. When Real Madrid or Barcelona are involved it is difficult for any player to say no, and Premier League clubs and fans have learnt to accept that. Sometimes it can even work in their favour, as we saw when Liverpool somehow swindled Barca out of £142m for Phillipe Coutinho. They used that money to build a Premier League and Champions League winning side, while Coutinho now plays his football at Villa Park. 

Being an outstanding footballer isn’t enough to guarantee a sweet send off however. Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney both changed their mind over leaving Liverpool and United respectively after vociferous fan reaction and Harry Kane finds himself in a peculiar scenario. 

The man who has scored 278 goals for Tottenham Hotspur, more than anybody else in history, wanted to leave last summer. However, Daniel Levy didn’t want to let Kane leave and under Antonio Conte, there was hope of trophies this term. That hasn’t materialised, and now he has just one year left on his contract. 

Should he leave for Manchester United, he will be appreciated by the Spurs fans for what he has achieved at the club, but he will surely also leave with a tinge of bitterness. Tottenham do not want him to leave, and the fans would love him to be a one-club man. But he is unlikely to win major trophies with them.

Spurs still see themselves as being able to compete with the likes of the Manchester clubs, but they are so far off it. Even Newcastle United look like they have leapfrogged them and with a huge amount of financial backing, that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. A new order is being established and Spurs, without Harry Kane, might fall by the wayside. 

He deserves to have the same respectful send off as Rice will get, but it seems unlikely to happen. Then again, the England midfielder didn’t try and unsuccessfully force a move last summer. There’s a way to leave a football club, and Rice has shown exactly how to do it. West Ham fans, if he does depart, have seen one of the greatest players of the modern era go with his head held high. 

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