So, Declan Rice has been rewarded for an outstanding season in the Premier League, playing the majority of games for West Ham United as a nineteen year old in the heated cauldron of central defence. Couple this with the plaudits he has received whilst on international duty with Ireland as well, some touting him as future captain for club and country.
So, what is his reward then….an increase from £3k to £8k a week. Cue the outraged masses of E20 figuratively clambering up to the Directors Box to turn Brady, Gold and Sullivan upside down to empty their pockets to give young Declan the reward he deserves. Personally, I’m in two minds about this. I do think that £8k appears light when compared to the likes of Edmilson Fernandes and Reece Oxford who are both apparently on a contact of £20k a week. I mention Oxford because his is a fitting comparison with Declan.
No one will forget that sunny day at the Emirates when Reece departed the Arsenal pitch with some loose change and Mesut Ozil in his back pocket. A star was born and immediately the comparisons began with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and in time he was given a lucrative contract. Since that day in North London, Oxford has never failed to disappoint in terms of meeting potential. Being sent out on loan to Germany has only served to increase the uncertainty about his ability to meet the standards required in the Premier League and with two managers already deciding he isn’t up to it, we’ll now see what Pellegrini thinks of Reece.
I raise this because of the lucrative contract he was given….did it turn his head, did he think he had made it with his first big contract. Could the same happen to Declan if he was given £20k upwards immediately. However, I do admit that the contribution Rice made this season is far in advance of anything Oxford achieved and he looks a real prospect for years to come and if anything is more deserving of such a contract. I think striking the balance here is paramount, give him an increase of course but is an £8k a week wage enough in the current climate, of course not. I would put down £15k a week with clear wage progression should he meet targets for games played, continuing to be picked for Ireland etc, thus maintaining the hunger to progress whilst also rewarding him financially.
I also feel this just another of these ‘bash the board’ stories that are coming out daily right now and personally I’m taking them all with a pinch of salt. Another of these stories is ‘Pellegrini in conflict with the Board’ for example. I completely understand that trust in the board is still only marginally above zero at the moment, (if that), but constant calls of ‘pay the money’ or ‘announce *insert South American footballers name* here” really aren’t helping anyone. The work is ongoing, the enquiries are being made by Pellegrini and his team and I really think patience needs to be a buzz word for all of us at the moment. Rome wasn’t built in a day and taking the time to find and buy the right players is a better strategy than chucking a shedload of money at someone that in six month’s time will be sent packing on loan.
Which brings us back to Declan Rice…..yes, reward the lad for what was an outstanding first full season in the first team but let’s not fall into the trap of throwing a huge sum at Declan just yet, especially when countless West Ham prodigies have fallen during the second and third steps of their careers. Make him feel wanted, valued and most of all aware that if he continues to contribute and improve then the world is his oyster in terms of career progression and financial reward. Throwing bags of cash at him right now might just be the worst thing for him and sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.