This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Jamie O’Hara has expressed his views on Declan Rice, and while he may have some mixed feelings towards the England internationa, one of his comments may not sit well with some Hammers fans.
West Ham fans have made little secret of their admiration for Rice and many believe that he is priceless to the club, following reports that Manchester United are interested in a £70m move for the 20-year-old.
The midfielder has gone from strength to strength since breaking into the side two years ago and has secured himself a role in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, featuring in six of the last eight Three Lions matches.
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O’Hara recognises the performances he has made but the ex-Spurs player thinks some of the praise for him has gone overboard. Speaking on talkSPORT, he said:
“I would have to say that he is a little bit overrated, I’m going to be honest. I like him. He’s a good footballer, he’s playing well for West Ham.
“Declan Rice has come in [to England], he’s done well but let’s not go OTT with him being a £100m player.”
However, the amount of matches he has played over the last 12 months shows that he is rated by both his club and national team manager, and he seems to be improving constantly. Not many would have envisaged Harry Maguire making an £80m move when he was 20, so O’Hara should perhaps consider that.
If anything, Rice is probably more underrated than overrated, as although people are becoming more aware of his consistent performances, they may not know just how good he has been this term or how useful his mentality is.
Figures of £70m+ that have been reported in the last few days seem extortionate due to the fact he has only 78 senior appearances under his belt, but he has made great strides under Manuel Pellegrini and is fast becoming West Ham’s most important player.
That is because he plays the defensive midfield role very effectively, mopping up danger with 2.3 interceptions and 3.8 tackles per game – for which he ranks fourth and third respectively amongst Premier League midfielders – whilst his ability to play centre-back means he has a versatility which makes him hugely beneficial to any team.
Rice is also young and English and that alone raises a player’s transfer value – with the transfers of John Stones and Aaron Wan-Bissaka an example of that – but if he can continue to learn and improve he will likely be worth £100m on merit soon enough.
The evidence suggests he will progress further too, as he has shown a willingness to learn and a determination to use negative experiences to his advanatge, a dressing down from David Moyes for conceding a goal in 2017/18 is one such example of that.