West Ham's Mark Noble has admitted he would "hate to see" the club's talented young star Declan Rice leave at any point in the near future as contract negotiations drag on.
Rice, 19, has been a standout performer for the Hammers on the pitch so far this season. However, off it he has been a regular feature in newspaper gossip columns amid speculation about his contract standoff with the club, and his international allegiance conundrum.
The 19-year-old is said to be a popular figure within the West Ham dressing room and Noble has insisted the club want to look after him as they consider him as one of their "best players" both now, and for the future.
While there will be lingering concerns over a lack of progress with Rice's contract extension - with his current deal reportedly expiring next summer - Noble is refusing to be concerned as he is confident an agreement will soon be reached.
“Declan has been in the media recently because firstly, he’s playing so well, but again because of his contract situation and his international commitments,” Noble penned for his column in the Evening Standard.
“With Declan, the club will either look after him here, which they want to do, give him a good contract because he’s one of our best players and home grown, or he goes somewhere else, which I would hate to see. We shouldn’t worry about Declan,” he added.
The representatives of the 19-year-old, who has made five appearances for the Hammers so far this season, turned down the club's latest offer of £15,000 per week plus a further £20,000 for every Premier League start, which also included a £5,000 raise after every 15 starts.