Date: 23rd October 2019 at 6:30am
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OPINION

There is hardly a player in the Premier League who is subject to more relentless criticism than West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, especially when it comes to international fixtures.

It’s been covered many times, including by this website, just how much vitriol the 20-year-old receives when pulling on the white shirt of his country. ‘Overrated’, ‘Not good enough’, ‘How is he in the team ahead of Harry Winks?!’, are some of the most familiar refrains when the youngster plays for England.

So former Hammers manager David Moyes’s comments about Rice on Tuesday morning will have served as a welcome slap in the face to the haters who continue to plague one of the finest young talents in English football.

“I think this season he’s been exceptional,” Moyes told talkSPORT. “He’s become nearly that central midfield player that England were looking for. I think Declan Rice might be the future, now.”

This sort of praise is a welcome tonic amid what’s been a rough few weeks for the West Ham star. The thing is, though, Moyes is absolutely right in his assessment of young Rice.

England have been crying out for a quality holding midfielder like the Irons starlet. They have tried players like Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier, but it’s not until Rice came along that we found a naturally top class defensive midfielder. Plus, he has the potential to get even better in the next decade plus.

He’s already pretty good now, as the statistics show. As per WhoScored.com, the youngster is currently averaging 3.4 tackles, 2.2 interceptions, 0.7 clearances and 0.3 blocks per Premier League game this season, whilst posting a pass success rate of 88.8%. That number rises to 96.3% when playing for the Three Lions.

Yet he still has plenty of detractors, and vocal ones at that. However, the effusive praise of an experienced manager like Moyes demonstrates the folly of their ways.