Name: Declan Rice
Club: West Ham United
Date of Birth: 14 January 1999
Position: Defensive midfielder, Centre-back
Declan Rice – his career so far
Even though he is one of the more developed young players at West Ham United, the 21-year-old Declan Rice is very much among the top talents that could still improve further at the club in the not so distant future. And arguably, having already tasted the spotlight for the Hammers in the Premier League, the defensive midfielder could also be categorised as known quantity but there is much more to come for the youngster if he keeps progressing as expected.
Rice joined West Ham United when he was only aged 14 and has been fast-tracked towards the very top since the beginning of his footballing journey. The now 21-year-old versatile midfielder advanced through the academy with ease, impressing the hierarchy and quickly becoming one of the key parts of every youth level he competed at.
It’s also quite interesting to note that he captained the Hammers at U16, U18 and U23 level before making his first-team debut in the Premier League. As a whole, however, he would muster only one documented U18 appearance since he was very quickly progressed a level higher.
With the U23s, Rice tallied 32 appearances and even managed to register one assist under his belt in the process as well. Of course, the final product is not really a part of his repertoire as the youngster is a defensive-minded player on the pitch.
His senior team debut arrived at the very end of the 2016/17 campaign when the Hammers faced Burnley in the final game of the season. And needless to say, that was the start of something truly remarkable for the younger.
Just a year later, when he was aged 19, he finished as runner-up in the Hammer of the Year voting, further showcasing his incredible talent. Since then, he could muster a total of 100 games for the first-team squad of the Irons, even scoring two goals and assisting further three on the side as well.
Even though he is still a young player with plenty to experience, Rice has already cemented himself as an important piece of the West Ham United jigsaw.
The latest transfer rumours surrounding Rice suggest that none other than Chelsea, the club the youngster actually played for when he was just starting his footballing career, are interested in possibly acquiring his services. But, it won’t be easy, to say the least.
With all the outside world circumstances making transfers that much more difficult and Rice being a key part of the Hammers’ future, the Blues will have to roll up their sleeves if they want to make this one happen.
Interestingly enough, in some other West Ham news, speaking to BBC Scotland’s Scottish football podcast, David Moyes himself responded to that transfer rumour, stating that he would then like to take one of Chelsea’s bright talents, Billy Gilmour. Of course, the Blues won’t let that happen but this does suggest Rice is highly valued and the club won’t let the transfer go through without a fight.
Being a defensive midfielder by trade – and having transitioned into that role from a more advanced, central midfielder – Rice is most effective when breaking up the opposition’s efforts, intercepting the ball and instigating his team’s own transitions.
His positional awareness enables him to successfully predict the opposition’s movement and counter it quickly by making strong tackles and engaging in duels across the pitch. Interestingly enough, he is also quite capable in the air, which is both a defensive and an offensive ability utilised by West Ham United.
But Rice also possesses an impressive technique and control of the ball, although this is definitely an area that can still be improved upon in the near future. He may already be a big part of the squad but the best thing is that he’s nowhere near the finished product just yet.
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