Chelsea see Rice’s potential as among the finest defensive midfielders in Europe


A top quality defensive midfielder is tough to search out, which is why West Ham United‘s Declan Rice is attracting loads of consideration.

Rice, 21, has been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United in current months resulting from his nice performances for the Hammers and his capability to play both in midfield or at centre-back.

Chelsea, who will come up towards him within the Premier League on Monday night time, spent over £220 million on new gamers in the summertime, although their curiosity in Rice stays. Sources have advised ESPN’s James Olley that Frank Lampard is hoping to transform the midfielder again right into a centre-back and “now recognises a must strengthen in that space.”

However the England worldwide could have many suitors when the switch window opens. Right here is our scouting report, revealing what you may count on to see from a participant rated at round £80m.

The place has he come from?

Sarcastically, given all of the current hypothesis a couple of transfer to Stamford Bridge, Rice’s first membership was truly Chelsea. He joined their academy on the age of seven however was launched at 14, whereupon he travelled throughout the capital to make his identify at West Ham.

Now the Blues would like to take the defensive midfielder again to West London and head a rising record of suitors from Europe’s prime golf equipment, although a valuation of round £80m signifies that no transfer is a foregone conclusion — particularly as his contract lasts till 2024 with the choice of one other 12 months. On the tender age of 21, Rice has taken over the captain’s armband on the Hammers when Mark Noble is on the bench, which reveals how extremely he’s rated on the membership.

Whereas Chelsea and Manchester United might go head-to-head for his membership providers sooner or later, Rice was the topic of a global tug of struggle too. Qualifying to play for the Republic of Eire by his grandparents, they approached him first, initially at U16 degree, after which handed him three senior caps in friendlies from 2018. However, having not had a “No. 6” of such high quality for years, England realised his potential and satisfied him to modify allegiance. He made his full debut in March 2019 towards the Czech Republic and is anticipated to be part of the Euro 2020 squad this summer season.


Having predominantly featured as a centre-back at youth degree, Rice’s preliminary appearances for the West Ham first staff noticed him come off the bench as a defensive midfielder. Then-manager Slaven Bilic noticed {the teenager}’s potential and understood that utilizing him in midfield could be probably the most wise technique to fast-track him into the first-team as centre-backs are hardly ever substituted for tactical causes.

His full debut got here in August 2017 and, after alternating between the 2 positions throughout the 2017-18 season, Rice lastly made the holding midfielder function his personal at the beginning of the next marketing campaign and has by no means regarded again. He was shortlisted for the PFA Younger Participant of The Yr award in 2019, has hardly missed a recreation since and is now an everyday fixture as a defensive midfielder for each membership and nation.


Rice’s model could be very a lot ‘what you see is what you get.’ Earlier than the rest he is a stabilising midfielder who brings stability to the core of the staff and, although nonetheless solely 21, he appears to know when a counterattack is perhaps looming and the place the potential risks of an opposing assault are. Certainly, he’s glorious at discovering the suitable areas and positioning himself accordingly, whereas his capability to learn the sport is very spectacular for one so younger.

Being such a tactically disciplined participant, he is clearly not flashy or extravagant in any approach, simply exceptionally environment friendly. As soon as in place, he’d a lot moderately give the ball to a extra inventive participant or just hold possession with a backward or sideways cross. Although he is perhaps seen as a considerably ‘unadventurous’ participant, managers love his consistency and know even at his minimal he’ll be at the very least a 6/10 performer.

Followers might miss a number of what he does beneath the radar, however his play is backed up by some fairly spectacular numbers. Final season he was among the many prime ball-winning midfielders within the Premier League — both from straight profitable challenges or selecting up unfastened balls — ending fourth on the Tackling record with 116. His 94 ball recoveries up to now this season is especially spectacular when you think about Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante has 101 and Southampton’s Oriol Romeu leads the way in which within the league with 108, placing Rice in eighth place.

Added to being dominant within the air, he is obtained an aggressive edge — although he concedes comparatively few fouls, solely 10 this season — and barely thinks twice about going for a problem, even one which he won’t be favorite to win. Furthermore, Rice is among the most constant gamers within the Premier League; he infrequently misses a recreation and virtually by no means will get substituted.


Rice shouldn’t be confused with a deep-lying midfield playmaker and his lack of ahead passing, assists or key contributions within the closing third shouldn’t be counted as weaknesses or held towards him. In actual fact, for what he’s — a disciplined, stabilising, positionally conscious, ball-winner — Rice definitely possesses the required qualities to change into among the finest in Europe in his place. And he is not far off that proper now.

As with most defensive-minded midfielders of his measurement, he is not among the many quickest in shifting across the pitch, although he does cowl a number of floor and his stamina usually makes him much more noticeable when the sport opens up late within the second half.

The place he matches in

Tactically Rice is greatest suited to enjoying alongside a extra inventive, ball-playing central midfielder — though that is not essentially the case at West Ham, the place the creativity normally comes from huge areas or from “half-positions” additional up the pitch.

He prospers as a second, deep-lying “sitting” midfielder who can depart the attacking facets to someone higher suited to selecting out gaps for a cross between the traces and dictating the tempo of the sport.

At long-term suitors Chelsea, the place he would staff up with greatest buddy Mason Mount, he would carry out related duties to Kante, offering Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic with defensive assist by defending the centre-backs, in an identical vein to how Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg does it at Tottenham. Though Rice is extra static than Kante, he is obtained extra of an aerial presence and tends to be barely extra dependable in possession.

Ever since Claude Makelele made the defensive midfield function his personal at the beginning of the century for Actual Madrid and Chelsea, golf equipment have been falling over themselves to search out somebody who may have an identical impression. Of all Europe’s elite, Chelsea know higher than most what such a participant can deliver and, although they should pay lots to signal Rice, it will definitely be a worthwhile funding for the longer term.



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