Declan Rice was uncharacteristically wasteful in West Ham United’s victory over London rivals Fulham on Saturday, with the England international unable to leave a positive impression on the result.
The 21-year-old is among the most important players at the London Stadium, where boss David Moyes has called on Rice to start all available Premier League fixtures since returning to succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the helm.
But Rice was far from the player reportedly set to earn a £120,000-per-week contract after transfer interest from Chelsea this summer, as the midfielder West Ham valued as high as £80million frequently struggled to put any pressure on Fulham.
England boss Gareth Southgate has been awash with praise for Rice in recent weeks, using words like ‘maturity’ ‘responsibility’, ‘huge potential’ and ‘great mentality’ to describe the 11-cap international he awarded a debut to.
But Moyes failed to see any of that or any real influence from Rice this weekend, and will be hoping for far better from the midfielder once he returns from Three Lions duty after being named in Southgate’s squad to face the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland.
Southgate will be hoping his prior praise is met with a performance on the pitch, too, having said via quotes by the official West Ham website: “We are delighted, pleased with how he is developing. He is a good professional, wants to learn, wants to work for the team, digs in for the team, is getting more vocal on the pitch.
“He has huge potential and the reason he has that potential is because he has a great mentality and desire to keep improving. He has other good examples among the senior players here. He knows the ones to follow and that is a good start.
“To have the additional responsibility of [West Ham] captaincy is brilliant and tells you also a bit about him as a person. For someone that young to be given the captaincy tells you the maturity he has, the responsibility he takes.”
Rice offered next to none of what Southgate has lauded him for against Fulham this weekend, as the Irons captain was uncharacteristically careless, particularly in the first half, as he lost five of seven ground duels, four of six aerial duels and turned the ball over on nine occasions, per SofaScore, for a duel success rating of just 30%.
He was further dribbled past when attempting two of his three tackles and committed two fouls, but somewhat made up for those shortcomings with three interceptions and by blocking two shots.
Though Moyes would have expected Rice to offer far more from his vast time on the ball, having recorded 81 touches, yet saw the midfielder attempt just 16 of his 70 passes in the final third, per WhoScored and play just five of his total efforts long – of which three found teammates.
Rice will know he can offer more than what he presented against Fulham, and both Moyes and Southgate will be banking on seeing that on the pitch in the weeks to come.