Man City, Man United and Chelsea transfer target Declan Rice reveals Champions League ambition as West Ham legend Tony Cottee stresses importance of beating Everton

Declan Rice admits he wants to be playing Champions League football as West Ham wait nervously to see if they can conclude a remarkable season in the top four.

After narrowly avoiding relegation at the end of last season, the Hammers are now firmly entrenched in a battle for the European places, with Rice leading the charge.

Rice is playing a crucial role in West Ham’s unlikely European surge

Although the 22-year-old is currently sidelined with a knee injury, his performances in midfield have been spectacular and he has worn the captain’s armband with distinction.

Such performances have drawn admiring glances from clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City recently, with the England international admitting playing in Europe’s premier competition appeals to him.

“To have that Champions League music playing, that’s where I want to be,” Rice told BBC’s MOTDx.

“It’s special, I can’t really describe it to be honest. As a kid it’s your dream, first of all to play in the Premier League, but to be competing for the Champions League [as well].

Manager David Moyes could be leading the Hammers into the Champions League

“You know West Ham, people say (we’re) a mid-table club and last three seasons we’ve been battling relegation. But this, what we’re doing now, has always been there. It was just about when. We’re on fire.

“We’re on course to have West Ham’s best ever season in the Premier League. That in itself is an achievement. There’s a great chance that we are going to get some sort of European spot.”

Victory against Everton at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon would push David Moyes’ men back into serious contention as they would just be two points behind Leicester in fourth place.

The Foxes still have to play high-flying Chelsea before the season finishes, with an FA Cup final to contend with as well – meaning there is a real chance West Ham could secure their best ever Premier League finish.

McAvennie formed a lethal partnership with fellow club legend Cottee

Back in 1986, the club finished third thanks to the goals of Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie, with the former Everton striker insisting nothing other than a win for the Irons will be good enough on Sunday.

“It’s alright saying West Ham are having a good season, but they’ve actually got some good players, Cottee told talkSPORT. “They’ve just got to hang on in there.

“They really need to win the game today, I do feel that they need to beat Everton to push on and get up and try and catch Leicester really.

“I think Chelsea probably will get third position, but if they’re going to catch anyone, they’re going to catch Leicester.

“If West Ham lose today, or even draw, it is going to make it difficult.”