Rice took to the Hammers’ official website to pen an emotional goodbye message, as his nine-year association with the club is about to come to an end when he completes a £105 million ($137m) transfer to Arsenal.“Where do I start? Rice wrote. “I guess at the very beginning, in the spring of 2013, when I travelled all the way from my home in south west London to Essex for a trial with West Ham at the age of 14, not really knowing what to expect, or whether it was a good idea to consider the possibility of playing for a club miles away from my family and where I had grown up.”However, I knew from the very first moment I walked into Chadwell Heath that I had found another place I could call home. It’s difficult to explain the feeling – I can only describe it as a sense of comfort and familiarity, almost as though it had been waiting for me. I fitted in straight away and realised just what a special club I had joined.
“So many great memories and highlights – my first goal for the Club two days before my 20th birthday, finishing in the top six of the Premier League, winning the Hammer of the Year award three times, the magical European nights under the lights at London Stadium – and all topped off by the way last season ended.
“I want you to know how tough a decision it has been for me to leave an environment that I have loved and cherished so much. Ultimately, though, it has only ever been about my ambition to play at the very highest level of the game.
“Playing on the opposite team to West Ham for the first time will be an unusual experience. I’m not sure yet exactly how I will feel, but I also know you will all understand and respect that my professional loyalties have to now lie with my new Club. I will always give 100% every single time I pull on the shirt – because that is how I have been brought up at West Ham, and I’m sure you wouldn’t expect anything else. “Rice is due to be announced officially as an Arsenal player in the coming days, after the Gunners won the race to sign the midfielder.His move to Arsenal should be officially announced very soon, and with it comes enormous pressures and responsibility. The 24-year-old will be aiming to achieve bigger and better things at Arsenal in the coming years. Rice could make his competitive Arsenal debut on August 12 against Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the Premier League.