David Moyes and his men namely Michail Antonio and Said Benrahma have gathered a lot of praises from football enthusiasts around the world for their extremely good performances this season.
However, the man who stays behind the curtains pulling the strings and often goes unnoticed is none other than the Hammers’ captain Declan Rice. Rice was arguably the best performer for West Ham last season and even showed his inexplicable talent for the Three Lions en route to the final of Euro Cup 2021.
The 22-year-old is one of the best defensive midfielders in England at this moment and has spoken about looking at Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira to find ways to improve his game. Rice had been linked with a transfer away from the London Stadium to Old Trafford this summer. But West Ham have managed to keep their main man at the club and Rice has started this season as the captain of the London club again.
Though he does not appear in the headlines much, Declan Rice has had a brilliant start to another campaign and has been silently doing his job to perfection. We take an in-depth look at his stats from the start of the season.
Declan Rice is one of the most crucial and functional parts of the Hammers’ 4-2-3-1 system. He plays on the left side of the pivot alongside Tomas Soucek. He has covered nearly everywhere throughout the pitch which shows how mobile he is and how large of an area he covers almost on a weekly basis.
He has spent most of his time on the left side of the midfield in both the halves almost equally(the red and orange zones) to circulate the ball all over the pitch and keep the game moving.
Rice drops as deep as into the box acting as a defensive shield to the West Ham backline while also carrying the ball into the opposition box. A midfielder like Declan Rice is really hard to find, who has such an immense work rate, great distribution and progression, high defensive output, creativity – his assist for Michail Antonio’s goal against Leicester City speaks for it; a hardworking box to box midfielder who’s extremely hard to dispossess.
Declan Rice is an efficient and smooth passer of the football. His composure, calmness and decision making on the ball is really unmatchable, such is his precision. We can see above that he has completed passes equally in both halves predominantly sticking to the left side in his own half and drifting centrally.
Rice has been more mobile and versatile in the attacking third playing passes on both the flanks as well as centrally. He has played quite a few crosses from the left-wing and tried to play through balls as well from the middle. Declan Rice takes 78 touches on average per match with a 95% passing accuracy.
Declan Rice has attempted a total of 320 passes, the most in the West Ham team and also the fifth most in the league. He has successfully completed 304 passes among them, fifth most in the league again and the most by any English midfielder. He has been leading the charts for the most passes and successful passes attempted by a midfielder. This shows his comfort and precision on the ball.
He has the second-most accurate forward passes in the team behind Aaron Cresswell. But again the conversion rate of successful forward passes to total forward passes attempted is second to none. He has attempted a total of 91 forward passes, among which 88 have been successful. He is an elite distributor of the ball and the stats do not lie here as well.
Rice is the best ball carrier in the team and leads the team in the most number progressive carries and accurate final third passing. He has 50 accurate final third passes, among 51 attempted, the fifth most in the league and, again, the most from any English midfielder and more than Paul Pogba. In a possession dominated playing style, a player with Declan Rice’s passing range and skillset is an asset.
Rice has again been leading the charts for most defensive duels won in the squad. he has won a total of 11 duels, more than any defender, just seven behind Matty Cash who has won the most with 18 in the league. It’s very hard to dribble past Rice and he gets out on top most of the time.
His interceptions have mainly been in the defensive third and in the penalty box. He has taken the ball while others have been on it cleanly most times without giving away a cheap foul which shows his decision making, confidence and temperament. Rice also has intercepted a lot of passes in the midfield which could have led to attacks on the West Ham goal.
Among his 54 recoveries, he has recovered the ball 26 times in the opposition half – pressing higher up the pitch helping West Ham to start attacks in quick transition, the third-most in the league and, once again, the most of any English midfielder.
Neither is he afraid of doing the dirty work on the pitch, committing 10 fouls, the most in the team and getting into the referee’s book twice as a consequence.
Declan Rice without any share of doubt has been the best player for West Ham till now. He has picked up exactly where he left last season and has been a consistent performer. Still just 22, Rice has a long career ahead of him and if he continues to play like this, he surely will end up as one of the best defensive midfielders of all time. He is a complete midfielder minus the goal scoring, but he sure does make it up through other aspects of his game. If West Ham wants to build a team for the future, they should immediately try to sign up a new contract for their captain otherwise their loss will turn into a very big bargain for other clubs in Europe.