West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has stated that the sale of Grady Diangana to West Bromwich Albion did not play a role in the side’s abject showing against Newcastle on Saturday.

The Hammers started the new Premier League season with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Newcastle United yesterday, in a sign that another tough campaign could be on the way.

West Ham fans and players were annoyed by the sale of Diangana, who starred for West Brom last season and could have had a big impact for the Irons this season.

The fact that he is a youth-team product made it tougher for the Hammers supporters to take, with the club cashing-in on the winger but not reinvesting the money in David Moyes’ squad.

Rice, who was one of those to speak out about his frustration over Diangana’s exit last week, was quizzed on the topic again after West Ham’s latest loss.

However, the Hammers star said the transfer did not have an impact on the team’s performance against Newcastle – but the side must improve.

“Not a thing,” the London Evening Standard quote West Ham star Rice as saying.

“When you are a footballer and are out on the pitch, that has nothing to do with it. You concentrate on the game once you cross the white line.

“The same players who played brilliantly well at the end of last season – I was hoping to get much the same from them, but we did not.”

The sale of Diangana clearly rattled the West Ham squad and was far from ideal preparation for the new season.

The Hammers are back in Premier League action against Arsenal next weekend, but have an EFL Cup clash against Charlton to play in midweek first.