Declan Rice has been one of the best midfielders in the English Premier League. The former Chelsea youth product came through their ranks but was sold to West Ham United. The 24-year-old made a name for himself by performing consistently at the top division. He was a transfer target for a few clubs at the start of the season but was happy to stay at West Ham United. Now things have been a bit different at his current club, as West Ham are struggling in the bottom half of the table. Arsenal have also entered the race to sign the defensive midfielder for their team. Chelsea were interested in bringing him back to the Bridge at the start of the season. But with their recent transfer business and heavy spending, the move is unlikely to happen. Arsenal are contesting for the title, and the English international is also assured of regular gametime at the Gunners. We now take a look at some of the stats from recent seasons that demonstrate why Arsenal is interested in the 24-year-old.
The midfield commander
Declan Rice plays as a defensive midfielder for West Ham United as well as for his country. He prefers to play on the left side of the midfield. The 24-year-old has appeared in 19 English Premier League games for the Hammers this season and has played every minute for them. In recent seasons, he has started to add some goals to his tally. This season, he has a goal and two assists to his name. The above viz shows the percentile rank of the player in comparison to other left-defensive midfielders in the league. It can be observed that Rice is ranked decently in almost every department. He holds a high rank in passing accuracy as well as in attempting progressive passes.
The above viz shows the defensive territory of the player this season. Declan Rice features on the left side and contests most of the defensive actions on the left side. He averages 5.16 interceptions for a struggling West Ham United side. Rice has also managed to win 67.2% of his defensive duels and 59.5% of his aerial duels this season. Last season, the average number of interceptions was pretty similar, but the duels’ win rate was a bit low. He won 63.1% of defensive duels and 58% of aerial duels last season. This season, the team is just above the relegation zone, and Rice is trying hard to take his team into the top half.
Adding to his defensive duties, the player is not afraid to put his body on the line. The above viz shows that he has blocked 26 shots combined from the current as well as last season. He had 18 blocks last season. Most of the blocks have come on the edge of the penalty box. This shows that the player anticipates the movement of the opposition quickly and closes the space to take a shot towards his goal.
Contributions to the attack
Looking at the way that Rice plays, his contributions are more to the defence than to the attack. The player has scored eight goals in 204 English Premier League appearances and has 12 assists to his name.
The above two visualisations show the progressive runs that Rice makes for his team. One thing that both images have in common is that Rice has made around 80% of his runs from the left side. This season, he averages 1.88 progressive runs per 90 minutes and 1.3 dribbles per 90 minutes for a 66.7% success rate. Last season, the team was playing well, and Rice averaged 3.02 progressive runs and 2.19 dribbles per 90 minutes.
Declan Rice likes to command the play from the midfield. The 24-year-old averages 53.67 passes per 90 minutes and has a 91.4% accuracy rate. These include 9.97 passes to the final third with a huge success rate of 89.8%. The midfielder also tries 1.45 passes to the opposition penalty box but lacks a bit of accuracy in that. The above viz shows the benchmarking of the passes to the final third of players playing in different midfield positions. Declan Rice is ranked highly among them.
The attacking contributions of the player also include some high regains that he has made for his team. West Ham United have struggled to find the back of the net this season. They continuously try to create plays but the ball gets cleared very often. In such scenarios, Rice is always available to help out his teammates. He averages 10.65 recoveries, with 38.9% coming in the attacking half. Last season, the rate was a bit similar. The above two visualisations show that Rice makes most of the high regains on the edge of the final third. He likes to stay in the back and stop the opposition from making counterattacks.
Could he replace Partey?
Declan Rice’s inclusion in the team could threaten Thomas Partey’s position. Both play in a similar role for their side, with Partey making more forward runs than Rice. The above viz compares the player’s stats according to their percentile rank. It can be observed that Partey has a slight edge over Rice this season. He has two goals but has no assist to his name. Rice has an edge on the creative side and is five years younger than Partey. Arsenal are looking for a long-term investment, and Rice’s age gives him an advantage over Partey.
The 1×2 odds would have a slight impact on Rice’s inclusion. Arsenal’s rate would see a bit of a decrease as their chances of winning against weaker teams would increase. The over/under lines are likely to be affected.
Declan Rice is becoming a primary target for Arsenal in the midfield. After failing to sign Youri Tielemans in the summer, they would go all-in for the England international. They are contesting for the league title this season. Declan Rice would also like to move to a club playing Champions League football. Arsenal could be the next possible destination for him.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine