After leading West Ham United to their first European trophy since 1965, their captain is being linked with a transfer to Arsenal and Man City among others.

Speak to anyone about Declan Rice and there is a good chance they will either claim the England international is underrated or overrated.

One thing that is for sure about Rice is that he is rated within the game. Reports suggest that the biggest clubs in England all hold an interest in the West Ham captain, with Arsenal and Man City particularly strongly linked, while former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel apparently wants to take him to Bayern Munich to boost the engine room of the Bundesliga champions.

Rice’s star has risen in the Premier League in the last few years, and he also started to make his mark in Europe. He led West Ham to the semi-finals of last season’s UEFA Europa League, and was front and centre as the Hammers won the UEFA Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina in Prague. It was West Ham’s first European final since they were beaten by Anderlecht in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and their first European trophy since lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964-65.

Rice also played his part for England as they reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022, averaging more passes per 90 than any of his fellow Three Lions midfielders (68.5), which ranked him 19th across the whole tournament for midfielders who played at least three games.

Declan Rice World Cup pass map

West Ham have held onto their talisman until now, but it seems the player is ready to move to the next level, and should a club offer a significant sum, the Hammers sound like they could reluctantly part with him. The club’s chairman David Sullivan told talkSPORT the day after West Ham’s European triumph: “We promised him he could go. He set his heart on going.”

But why is there such a clamour for Rice not seen since people were panic buying during the COVID-19 pandemic? We have taken a look at some key areas that potential suitors will have considered.


Rice has developed nicely in his six years as a first-team player at West Ham. He made 26 Premier League appearances in his debut 2017-18 campaign, where he won possession on average 4.6 times per 90. That immediately rose to 8.6 times per 90 the following season as he moved from defence into midfield, and in 2022-23 it was at a whopping 9.2 times per 90. His total of 334 possession wins this season was comfortably the most in the league, with only Manchester City’s Rodri (301) also breaking the 300 mark.

Declan Rice possession won

He also ended the campaign with more interceptions than anyone else in the Premier League. His 63 was seven more than Idrissa Gueye, Cheick Doucouré and Moisés Caicedo (all 56), though Gueye and Doucouré did register higher per-90 rates (1.9 and 1.8 respectively).

Rice also protects the defence admirably. He was only dribbled past 20 times in the league in 2022-23 at an average of 0.6 times per 90. That was a better rate than the likes of Caicedo (0.8), Rodri, Bruno Guimarães (both 0.9), Thomas Partey (1.0), Gueye (1.1), Fabinho (1.3), João Palhinha (2.0) and Casemiro (2.1).

Much like a dishonoured Renaissance gentleman, he also likes a duel. Of midfielders to have competed in more than 200 duels in the Premier League this season (the football kind, not the pistols at dawn kind), only Gueye, Jack Grealish, Palhinha and Partey recorded a higher success percentage than Rice’s 58.6. Should Mr. Tuchel be reading, that is also slightly better than Bayern midfield pair Joshua Kimmich (56.4%) and Leon Goretzka (57.9%) managed.

Speaking of teams supposedly interested in his services, according to our new radar comparisons, the player in Europe’s top-five leagues Rice’s profile this season is closest to is Arsenal’s Thomas Partey, who is rumoured to be a possible outgoing at the Emirates Stadium this summer. That could perhaps be an indicator as to why Mikel Arteta has supposedly made Rice his top target.


Though he may be extremely capable defensively, Rice also isn’t afraid of going the other way.

He scored four league goals this season, his best return in England’s top flight, and also produced a marvellous solo effort in the 4-1 Europa Conference League quarter-final second leg victory against Gent, running from his own half before slotting in front of the wild home fans. A beaming Rice told BT Sport afterwards: “When I pick the ball up in those positions and I’ve got all that space to drive into, I feel good. When I’m running at defenders and I’ve got that space to drive with the ball, that’s when I feel like I’m at my best.”

His involvement in attacking sequences has been second to none for his club as well, recording 138 overall in the Premier League, the most for any West Ham player in 2022-23. That included 32 shots, 30 chances created and 76 involvements in the build-up to a shot, showing how integral he is going forward as well as in defence.

West Ham attacking sequence involvement

Only Saïd Benrahma (47) and Jarrod Bowen (35) created more chances from open play for the Hammers in the league than Rice, while only those same two players as well as Vladimír Coufal and Aaron Creswell created more than his three big chances.

Passing and Carries

As well as all that, there is more general midfield work to consider.

Rice is West Ham’s primary passer of the ball, making almost twice as many as any of his teammates in the Premier League this season. In fact, his 2,083 passes were only behind Rodri, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Caicedo for midfielders in the whole league, which is impressive when you consider David Moyes’ side can hardly be described as a possession-based side. Only Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth averaged less possession per game than West Ham’s 41.4%.

Does that mean he was giving the ball away all the time? No. Rice completed 88.1% of his passes, eighth in the league for midfielders who attempted at least 1,000 passes. Does it mean he was playing easy passes? No. Only Bruno Fernandes (633) and Rodri (624) attempted more forward passes than Rice’s 607.

Most passes in PL 2022-23

Does that mean Rice was being aided by space and movement around him? No. Only six players in the league completed more passes when an opponent was within two metres, and it’s not as if Rice was overrun with options to choose from either. West Ham recorded the lowest average passing options (1.08) of all Premier League teams in 2022-23.

He also loves to carry the ball. Only Rodri totalled more carries in the Premier League this season (702) than Rice’s 597, and only the Spain international recorded a greater total carry distance among central midfielders.

Rice actually has more in him when it comes to carries, which could potentially be unlocked in another setup. He recorded a gigantic 716 carries in the 2021-22 league campaign at 20.3 per 90, while he also had 105 in the Europa Conference League this season.

Rice Europa Conference League carries

Much like his culinary namesake that can lead to certain people making some terrible jokes (ahem), Rice is dependable, versatile and would be a welcome addition to several different recipes.

He is now a European champion as well, and expect some of the continent’s biggest clubs to soon be all over him like white on… well, you know.

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