Rice ignoring interest from Manchester rivals City & United

Declan Rice West Ham 2018-19
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The West Ham midfielder is generating transfer talk heading towards the summer window, but he is turning a deaf ear to the speculation at present

Declan Rice is choosing to ignore speculation suggesting that his performances for West Ham have attracted interest from Manchester rivals City and United.

The 20-year-old has enjoyed a stunning rise to prominence in the 2018-19 campaign.

A positional shift which has moved him out of a defensive berth and into a holding midfield role has given the youngster a new lease of life.

His rapid progress has seen him drafted into the senior England fold, having switched international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland, while transfer talk has also been sparked.

Rice has been billed as a possible long-term successor to Fernandinho at Premier League champions City, while he is also considered to be a useful option for United as they seek added graft and guile.

The Hammers academy graduate is aware of the speculation but claims his full focus remains locked on events in the East End.

He told BT Sport: "I’m happy. I’m playing week in, week out. I have a special connection with the fans. It’s unbelievable [the London Stadium].

"I love every minute of being at West Ham.

"Being compared to players, being linked to other teams, I don’t really take any of it in, to be honest.

"If you think about it too much you get caught up in it. I’m only 20, you’ve got your whole career ahead of you.

"I’m just focused on playing for West Ham and playing with a smile on my face and enjoying it."

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That approach has delivered 35 appearances for club and country this season.

He made his international debut during the recent international break, with Rice figuring for the Three Lions in Euro 2020 qualifying wins over the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

He was brought back down to earth by a humbling 2-0 defeat to Everton on Saturday, however, but West Ham remain in the hunt for European qualification with six games of the season remaining.