Declan Rice continued his phenomenal form as West Ham United’s unbeaten start to the 2021/22 campaign came to a crushing end on Sunday.
David Moyes’ side were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United at the London Stadium in a game marred by late controversy as club captain Mark Noble came on as a substitute to miss a penalty, just minutes after last season’s loan star Jesse Lingard bagged an agonising winner.
In amongst the heartbreak, it was the 22-year-old England international who displayed exactly why teams like their opposition are interested in signing him ahead of 2022.
According to The Sun earlier this month, both Manchester giants are set to go head-to-head in a battle to try and secure the Hammers star next summer, though they’ll have to pay in excess of £100m.
In the heart of midfield, Rice was shades of Roy Keane, something on which the Sky Sports pundit even commented himself during the game.
“He’s way ahead of me when I was 22. I think the next step will come to him when he plays a higher level and when I say higher level I mean for Manchester United,” he said.
Indeed, the £63m-rated beast managed to record the best passing accuracy on the pitch, making 97% of his 59 attempts – a feat that not even Paul Pogba nor Bruno Fernandes could match on the afternoon.
He also completed 100% of his long ball attempts, which is even more impressive considering the lack of a target man in this West Ham squad.
Rice was one of Moyes’ most influential players, registering a squad-high 68 touches, in which he only lost possession three times, and that was amongst the lowest on the pitch as he proved to be a very hard man to dispossess – almost as if he ran the show, despite the defeat.
Keane wasn’t the only one to shower the Englishman in praise either as the Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser graded his performance a 9/10 and wrote: ‘Another stellar showing following his goalscoring European debut in the week.’
Rice, who earns around £60k-per-week currently, also showed his defensive capabilities by putting in two interceptions and one tackle, though it wasn’t enough to thwart the finishing qualities of Ronaldo and his teammate from last season.
All in all, though, Rice was perhaps the one shining light from a bitter day at the London Stadium.