‘We tried everything to keep Declan Rice – my job eventually was to sell him’

West Ham “tried everything” to keep Declan Rice before his record transfer to Arsenal.

Rice joined Arsenal in July for a club record fee of £105million. The midfielder had a year left on his contract at West Ham but was desperate for a new challenge with one of England’s elite clubs.

Arsenal was Rice’s preferred destination despite strong interest from Premier League champions Manchester City. After seeing two bids rejected, the Gunners were finally able to agree an initial payment of £100m paid over 24 months with their London rivals, plus £5m in add-ons.

Hammers vice-chairman Karren Brady has now confirmed that the east London club pulled out all the stops to keep their captain. Yet Rice, whose final game ended with him lifting the Europa Conference League trophy, could not be swayed in his decision.

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Brady told talkSPORT: “My job was to sell him, to do the deal. We did not want to sell him. He made a decision that he wanted to go.

“My job was to get the best possible price for him so the club could go back in again and make every penny of that count. And I think that’s exactly what we did.”

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She added: “It’s very difficult when a player doesn’t want to stay. We tried everything we could to convince him to stay, in terms of the contract and trying to build a team around him. He’s a special player and actually a gentleman too, a great captain.

“It’s an unrequited love when you love them but they don’t love you. I think he actually did love West Ham but he saw his career outside of the club. We had no choice but to move on.”

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The 24-year-old made 245 appearances for the Irons, having made his first-team debut in 2017.

He has featured in all four of Arsenal’s Premier League matches this season, alongside winning the Community Shield in his first competitive game.

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