West Ham star Declan Rice has admitted that he wanted to leave West Ham and join Aston Villa on loan in 2018.
“I remember speaking to Ryan Fredericks on the plane on the way home, and I was thinking that I should go on loan,” he told magazine FourFourTwo.
“Being dragged off at Anfield and then being left out of the squad for the next couple of matches, it really made me think.”
“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!’ He said, ‘You’re going to stay, and you’re going to play’. He told me that I had to get back into the team.
“I thought, ‘Well, if I’m not going to go on loan, then I have to give it everything here’. I realised that I needed to get much better if I wanted to play in the Premier League.”
Rice has been a first-team regular for the Hammers over the past four seasons and has developed into one of England’s best defensive midfielders. He is a vital component of the Hammers first-team under David Moyes and even captains the team in the absence of regular skipper Mark Noble.
At the start of the 2018/19 season, Villa were playing in the Championship under the management of current Newcastle boss Steve Bruce.
Whilst Rice was making first-team appearances for the Hammers at the time, he was not a first-team regular and must have felt that a move to Villa would help his confidence.
West Ham may be preparing for life after Rice behind the scenes, as he has been linked with moves to Manchester United and Chelsea over the past couple of months. There is no denying that he may start thinking of a move away from the London Stadium in the future, as a player of his calibre should be playing in the Champions League.