There have been few rises in recent Premier League history as meteoric as Declan Rice’s.
The West Ham starlet has gone from academy prospect to England mainstay at breakneck speed, and has endeared himself to the Hammers’ fanbase immensely during that period of time.
It’s not hard to see why either. So far this season, despite the abject form of many of his teammates, he has averaged 2.8 tackles, 2.2 interceptions, and a pass completion rate just shy of 90% per game in the Premier League, as per Whoscored.
In short, he has been a shining light in a campaign that is threatening to become increasingly dark.
But despite that, he has still come in for an unjustified amount of stick at times this season.
Pundits like Roy Keane, as per Forever West Ham, and Ray Parlour, as per Forever West Ham, have called his form into question in recent times, but it feels somewhat unfair for a player who is still learning his craft.
And if there are any doubts as to just how good Rice has been since making his breakthrough, you need only look at Roshane Thomas’ decision to include him in his Hammers’ Team of the Decade for the Athletic.
Writing in that piece, the reporter said: “Rice is the real deal. If you disagree, you need your eyes tested. The 20-year-old is one of the hottest young commodities in English football.
“If he is this good now after just 62 Premier League starts, it is frightening to imagine what he will be like in five to six years when he reaches his prime and has more experience under his belt.
“The only way is up for Rice and West Ham fans can only hope he will be anchoring their midfield for many years to come.”
Nobody is saying he is perfect, not by a long shot, but the fact of the matter is that Rice has been, by and large, superb for the Hammers, and he deserves more credit than he is sometimes given.