Dean Ashton shared his doubt about West Ham midfielder Declan Rice’s ability as he admitted he didn’t think he was able to dictate the tempo of games.
The former Hammers forward claimed that the 20-year-old read the game very well and broke up play superbly, but there was still room for him to improve.
“He reads the game very well, he breaks the play up superbly,” Ashton told Goal.
“On the ball nowadays, you want your holding midfield players to dictate tempo and I’m not quite sure he’s got that.
“He’s obviously got Mark Noble to learn off, I think he’s still better than him at that, and where I would like to see improvement is on the ball, being comfortable, being able to dictate the pace in what is such an integral position now.”
Rice is a fan favourite at the London Stadium as West Ham fans appreciate players who rise through the club’s youth system in order to be an established member of the first-team, and that’s exactly what the England international has done over the course of the last 18 months. However, there’s no denying that there is still room for improvement as the age of 20-years-old, Rice clearly hasn’t reached his maximum potential as a player. Yet it’s interesting that Ashton believes Rice’s inability to dictate the tempo is an area of his game he needs to work on, as the 20-year-old does seem to keep Manuel Pellegrini’s side ticking over in midfield. A midfielder normally sets the tempo of the game through their passes, and it’s worth noting that no one has made more passes for the Hammers this season than Rice. The 20-year-old tops the club’s passing charts, when it comes to Premier League outings, having made 481 passes, which is 58 more than Felipe Anderson who is second in the chart (Source: Premier League). Also in his 2018/19 campaign, Rice finished second in the club’s passing charts, so he has consistently set the tempo for the Hammers (Source: Premier League). So with that in mind, does Rice really fail to dictate the tempo of games?