Arsenal and Chelsea transfer target Declan Rice has previously admitted he is desperate to play alongside his fellow England internationals in the Champions League

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West Ham star Declan Rice’s future looks very clearly to be away from the London Stadium. For a number of seasons, the 24-year-old has chosen to remain at the Hammers despite strong interest in his services, but with 12 months left on his contract an exit in the summer seems best for both parties.

Signing an extension beyond 2024 has seemed highly unlikely for Rice and a departure this summer allows West Ham to receive a hefty fee for their club captain. Arsenal and Chelsea are the two main clubs targeting the England international, with the Gunners setting Rice as their priority target, understands.

Both London clubs were locked in a January transfer battle for Moises Caicedo, but Brighton were able to keep hold of their lynch pin, despite five offers coming their way. With significant talk over a big-money move being secured for Rice, some criticism has been thrown his way in one particular department that stops him from being the complete midfielder.

“He has first got to focus on West Ham and doing well for the rest of the season, but I don’t think he has been great this season,” Keane told ITV. “I don’t think he has kicked on for all the talk there has been about him – he needs to do a lot more.

“He doesn’t score enough goals or get enough assists. I have been a fan of him, he is always fit, but I just want a little bit more from him. There is talk of him leaving for big money and competing with teams for trophies, and he needs to do a lot more, it is as simple as that.

“Sometimes I see him play at West Ham, and he goes through the motions and he needs to do a lot more to match the top midfielders in the country.”

Plenty of pundits have continued to discuss where the future of Rice may lie with Danny Murphy hinting at the club best-suited to fulfil Rice’s desires.

“Declan Rice has to leave West Ham,” the former Premier League midfielder told the Daily Mail. “Ideally he would have gone last summer because it’s been hard for him to maintain his best form in a team that doesn’t keep the ball or boss games as well as others.

“Arsenal would be a great option and I think he’d be an automatic starter. The lure of Chelsea is also strong, having grown up supporting the club and playing in their academy.”

“He’s 100% ready to move to the next level and at 24 won’t want to wait any longer for Champions League football.”

With the Gunners at the top of the league, a spot in the Champions League for the 2023/24 campaign is all but guaranteed. Chelsea, meanwhile, are 11 points away from the Premier League’s top four which could mean a spot in Europe’s elite competition next season will not be achieved.

However, Graham Potter could emulate Thomas Tuchel’s 2021 success and win this seasons Champions League. Doing so would see Chelsea qualify for the competition but they must first bypass Real Madrid in the quarter-finals before a semi-final meeting against either Manchester City or Bayern Munich.

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