Charlie Nicholas has come out with criticism of Declan Rice on Sky Sports.
Speaking about the 20-year-old, Nicholas said: “People are far too excited about Declan Rice, with lots of mistakes and clumsiness there, as is the predictability with West Ham.”
Gareth Southgate has picked him in five of the last six England matches, as per Transfermarkt, so to claim this is simply West Ham supporters overhyping him is ludicrous.
One incident that will likely have fueled this line of debate is Rice’s mistake against Kosovo, which started a move that ended in the away side’s second goal of the game, as England went on to win 5-3.
However, look at his statistics for the match and it is clear that this was an anomaly rather than the rule for his performance: he completed 96% of his passes, provided 1 key pass, completed all 3 of his attempted dribbles, won 7 of his 9 duels, made 3 interceptions and 3 tackles, as per SofaScore.
While Chris Sutton also references the mistake, he showed appreciation for Rice’s contribution during the game for The Daily Mail, stating: “Rice perhaps went into this as the man under the most pressure to prove worthy of being a starter but for the fourth goal, the West Ham man showed what he is about, winning the ball back in midfield, allowing England to break at speed and score.”
Whether positive or negative, his credentials shouldn’t be solely based on one game though, so it is important to reference his club form this season.
Rice has played every minute of West Ham’s Premier League campaign so far, averaging 3.5 tackles, 2.3 interceptions, 1 clearance and 0.5 blocks per game, as per WhoScored.
He is also efficient on the ball, having completed 1.5 dribbles per game as well as maintaining a pass completion rate of 83.6%.
Another sign that the 20-year-old has impressed is the links that have been made between him and various big clubs, including Manchester United by The Metro.
All of this shows that West Ham fans have every right to be excited about someone who is a very talented player, rather than overhyping a player “with lots of mistakes and clumsiness”.