West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has said he feels like one of the top players in world football and has admitted he has an "urgent" desire to compete for trophies and play in the Champions League.
The 23-year-old has become a star for club and country over the past couple of years, and has helped transform West Ham from relegation candidates into genuine European contenders, as well as playing a pivotal role in England reaching their first ever European Championship final.
Rice was named Premier League Player of the Year at the London Football Awards on Thursday, and in an interview with the Evening Standard, he admitted for the first time that he feels ready to compete against the very best.
“It is as urgent as possible. I feel like, not only for me, that’s for every young player as well," Rice said of his desire to win trophies and step up to the top tier of European competition.
“We are really close with West Ham at the minute and last season it was gutting to lose out on it but we are pushing. We’ll keep going. Champions League is a big aim of mine and hopefully one day I can play in it and do well.
On his standing in the game and West Ham's valuation of at least £100m, he added: “I feel like I am one of the established top players around the world. I am only 23, so I am still young — that’s what I mean in that sense — but in terms of my playing ability and the way I’ve performed consistently, I see myself as an established player now who’s got good experience and can play at any level if required.
“You hear those numbers and for me it is crazy. All I can do is go out there and perform, regardless of the price tag. I just need to focus on playing well and performing at the best level I can.”
90min learned in November that Rice is willing to leave West Ham in order to fulfil his ambitions of playing at the highest level, although the club retain hope that their on-field captain can be convinced to sign a new contract - his current deal runs until 2024 with an additional 12 month extension clause.
Manchester City and Manchester United are seriously interested in signing Rice, but he's also drawn attention from former club Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Inter - a sign of just how influential he has been for West Ham and England.