Despite spending almost £100 million on new signings in the summer, a teenager is running West Ham’s midfield. Not a pop at the Hammers, but instead a compliment to Declan Rice…
The 19-year-old has started the season impressively for the London club, showing a maturity far beyond his age and is finally getting the credit he deserves. The hype around Reece Oxford, Rice’s teammate, has meant the Irishman has gone under the radar. Yet 31 appearances in all competitions in 2017/18 alone shows the quality the Ireland or potentially England international has at such a youthful age. His performance recently against Everton demonstrated the attributes and the composure he has to be labelled as an exciting prospect.
Rise Up the Ranks:
Born in London, Rice began his youth career at the Chelsea academy before joining West Ham’s renowned academy in 2014. He impressed in the Irons’ youth setup, captaining the Under 23s to promotion to Division 1. He was rewarded with his senior debut in 2016/17 as a substitute in West Ham’s final game of the season against Burnley at just 18 years of age.
First team regular:
As mentioned earlier, the central defender became a regular in West Ham’s side the following season. The Irons had a mediocre 2017/18 campaign finishing 13th, conceding the joint most goals out of any team in the league. Despite this damning statistic, Rice was improving through the season and had earned caps for the Republic of Ireland U21s.
This season so far, the young talent has not gone unnoticed. Having not played a competitive game for Ireland yet, the West Ham defensive midfielder is able to switch international allegiances and play for England. Gareth Southgate approached him just weeks ago and since then, scrutiny has been on the London born Hammer to perform on the big stage.
Declan’s Rice vs Everton:
He has certainly lived up to expectations with an impressive display against Everton, where he controlled the midfield and allowed West Ham’s big money signing Yarmolenko to thrive.
83% pass accuracy
1 dribble won
5 tackles won
2 blocked shots
6/9 duels won
Irons fans are calling for their club to pin down their young star on a long-term deal and at just 19, Declan Rice could seriously be a breakout star this season. Another successful West Ham academy graduate in the making?