West Ham are safe for another year following a string of hugely impressive results.
On Friday evening, the Irons were all but confirmed to have beaten the drop after David Moyes’ side rocked relegation-threatened Watford 3-1 at the London Stadium.
That came just days after a 4-0 dismantling of rock-bottom Norwich City, courtesy of a Michail Antonio masterclass.
And on Wednesday, they managed to hold off Manchester United in their quest for Champions League football even despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer selecting a dangerous attack involving Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes.
Integral to all three matches has been Declan Rice – the England lynchpin has enjoyed quite the resurgence at exactly the right time.
Per WhoScored, the 21-year-old has averaged a rating just shy of 8.0, making him one of the Hammers’ current top performers. In that time, he’s recorded 15 long balls, 11 interceptions, ten tackles, six dribbles and six shots at goal.
It’s no wonder Rice has been attracting interest from some of the Premier League’s elite. Both Chelsea and Manchester United have regularly been linked.
According to The Athletic, the Blues may use Fikayo Tomori as bait to land their former academy starlet whilst The Sun claim their London rivals believe £45m could be enough to clinch him in the summer. They also hint at United and Arsenal being keen admirers.
However, if the last three games are anything to go by, then Rice has fired a timely transfer warning to Moyes that he’s simply irreplaceable in this Hammers side.
Having already racked up seven caps for Gareth Southgate at 21, these sorts of displays are going to have him as a shoo-in to be on the plane for the Three Lions at next summer’s delayed European Championships.
Rice’s ability to also play in defence makes him even more invaluable to Moyes and the Glaswiegen once said he could “arguably be my best centre half and best midfielder.”
Whilst the praise hasn’t stopped there. Former Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini dubbed Rice a “complete player” who’s rather similar to Javier Mascherano and Joe Cole lauded his mentality and his love for the game in an interview with talkSPORT.
The Hammers on an upward trend under Moyes and if that’s to continue, Rice simply has to be at the forefront of it all as the team’s leading talisman.
You can throw whatever you like at the club, £45m, £60m, heck make it £100m, no one can replicate the 6 foot 1 enforcer’s impact in east London.
Industrious. Indispensable. But will GSB agree? Only time will tell.
AND in other news, here are the referees West Ham will want to see more of in future…