The England international’s stellar performances as part of a struggling Hammers side have regularly caught the eye and it has been suggested he is one of Frank Lampard’s transfer targets. A move back to the club he used to represent at academy level could be difficult to turn down, especially as he would be linking up with well-known pal Mason Mount, but ex-England midfielder Danny Murphy has issued some words of warning to the 21-year-old.
What did he say?
Speaking to TalkSPORT Murphy said: “If you look at Chelsea’s predicament in the midfield area of Jorginho, [Mateo] Kovacic and [N’Golo] Kante – Declan would be going ‘unless they got rid of one or two of those, I won’t be playing in midfield’.”
The former Liverpool midfielder added: “Although he could compete with them, they wouldn’t spend that much on a player just to have another central midfielder.”
Having started as a central defender when breaking through to the Hammers’ first team, Rice’s quality and reliability in possession led to the Englishman being pushed further up the field and he has started just one of his 33 Premier League appearances at centre back this term.
The 21-year-old has made himself at home in the West Ham engine room and with a pass accuracy of 86 per cent, it is easy to see why. Furthermore, Rice contributes a key pass every other match and has provided two assists for teammates this term, as per WhoScored.
Rice’s play on the ball has developed significantly since progressing further up the field, yet he remains one of the Irons’ most adept defenders, winning the ball back with 3.1 tackles-per-match and two interceptions per 90 minutes, via WhoScored.
Murphy has warned that if he were to make the switch across London, Lampard is said to see Rice as a centre back, which would be a role reversal to when he initially broke into the Hammers’ squad. Competitions for places in Chelsea’s midfield is incredibly high so one factor Rice must consider is where he sees his future on the pitch.
Were he to remain at West Ham, the Englishman would be given the opportunity to continue the development of his central and defensive midfield attributes, which is also where he has appeared under Gareth Southgate for England.
Rice must consider carefully the implications of a move back to Chelsea, which may lead to playing a position he has appeared to evolve beyond in East London.