Declan Rice has revealed how the backing of West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini prevented him from going out on loan to a Championship club last season. The midfielder was just 19 at the time but had already garnered plenty of attention, with 26 Premier League appearances in the 2017-2018 campaign.
He went into the first match of last term with the confidence of youth but was substituted at half-time as the Hammers left Anfield on the wrong end of a 4-0 hiding at the hands of eventual runners-up Liverpool.
The youngster was clearly affected by the result after being hauled off at the break and was then left out of the side for the following three games.
It was during that time that the man who opted to throw his lot in with England, despite playing his age-group football for the Republic of Ireland, went to the boss and asked for a loan move away to the second tier.
However, the Chilean tactician made it clear that the defensive midfielder was going nowhere and that gave him the confidence to go on and make 38 appearances in all competitions, while earning three full Three Lions caps on top.
Rice has now lifted the lid on the situation and, after shining for West Ham in the early part of the current season, confessed that the boss never had any intention of letting him drop down a division. “I wanted to go to Aston Villa under Steve Bruce,” he told FourFourTwo. “West Brom, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa wanted me. I was pushing for Villa the most. I remember speaking to the manager here, saying that I should go on loan. “He just laughed it off and said, ‘You’re not going on loan. You’re going to stay, and you’re going to play’. He told me that I had to get back into the team.”
Rice is currently with Gareth Southgate’s England squad as they prepare to face Bulgaria and Kosovo in a couple of Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The manager has opted for youth once again, with James Maddison, Harry Winks and Mason Mount also getting the nod to be part of the Three Lions’ set-up this time around.
There are still a few old heads, such as Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Southgate is prepared to trust his youngsters to do the business.
If Rice had gone out on loan last term it is unlikely that he would now be playing international football and so it appears he has a lot to thank his club boss for.