Pundit View: Rice “could be the player John Stones never was”

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Prior to the final match of the season, West Ham awarded the Hammer of the Year for 2019/20 trophy to Declan Rice. It was the first time he’d scooped the main award, after being named Young Hammer of the Year three seasons in succession. But, the 21-year-old’s 99th Premier League appearance threatens to be his last for the club as other sides have been liked with the England international.

Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City have emerged as the leading contenders for Rice’s signature. However, David Moyes has said, “he’s not going anywhere, unless you get one of those steel vans that have the cash in it.”

Journalist Martin Samuel has urged the third and fourth place sides to take the West Ham manager up on his offer and pay whatever it costs to pry Rice from the London Stadium.

What did he say?

Writing in the Daily Mail, Samuel said: “If there is a price for Rice, those that finished far away in Liverpool’s slipstream should pay it. He is what they need. A protector of defences, a centre half of immense promise.”

“Rice affords the best of both worlds – a talent with the instincts of a defender, but the imagination of a midfielder. He could become the player that John Stones never quite was. It’s moot, of course, because he’s not for sale. Unless you’ve got a steel van full of cash,” added the journalist.

Prized asset

No West Ham fan will want to see an academy graduate who has just won the Hammer of the Year award depart the club. Especially considering Rice was one of only seven outfield players to feature in every Premier League minute this season, and he was vitally important to the Hammers throughout those 38 appearances.

No other player in Moyes’ side could match Rice’s 3.1 tackles per match and two interceptions per 90 minutes. As Samuel suggested, his defensive instincts are second to no one in the West Ham squad.

Furthermore, Rice played the most passes per match, 45.6, with the second-highest pass accuracy, 86 per cent, in the West Ham squad, epitomising how effective the England international is with and without the ball.

It would be sad to see the 21-year-old depart, but as Moyes suggested, it would likely take a fortune to take him away from the London Stadium.

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