Gale acknowledged that Rice had come on leaps and bounds recently, but that he needed to start looking forward more rather than opt to make the safe pass.
“He’s not going anywhere, I’ll kill him if he goes,” said Gale on Sky Sports while laughing.
“I know Dec, and I’ll tell you what he is a quality lad as well as a quality player and I think even he realises he needs another year at West Ham.
“His game has come on leaps and bounds, but now in this next season, he has got to be the guy that looks forward instead of the safe pass, he has to look forward and just take that game on that little bit more, but he has got it in his locker.
“He’s a top player.
Calm down, Tony! While the pundit was clearly joking about killing Rice it was still odd to hear him crack that joke while on Sky Sports, as it’s not the usual thing you hear. However, given how important Rice was to Manuel Pellegrini’s side in his latest campaign, many West Ham fans would likely crack the same joke as Gale. The 20-year-old midfield enforcer started 89% of the Hammers’ Premier League games, as per Transfermarkt, and in total made 38 appearances across all competitions, scoring twice while assisting once. Rice added an extra layer of steel to the Hammers’ midfield in his league outings as he helped rack up six clean sheets by winning 61% of his 98 tackles and notably making 54 clearances (Source: Premier League). Yet, it’s fair to see why Gale believes Rice needs to work on the attacking side of his game in order to improve. The 20-year-old may have grabbed an assist in the EFL Cup, but he didn’t get any assists in his Premier League outings and only created one big chance. So it’s fair to say if he improves that side of his game, it will take him to the next level.