West Ham United manager David Moyes has labelled Declan Rice “one of the best young midfield players in Europe, if not the best”.
Rice, 22, is the very heartbeat of a West Ham side currently embarking on their first appearance in the Europa League group stages, already taking down Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 at the Stadion Maksimir a fortnight ago, in which the midfield maestro got on the scoresheet.
With club captain Mark Noble taking up a more cushy sinecure on the sidelines, Rice now dons the armband on matchdays, leading Moyes’ men with distinction and rallying the troops with a maturity that certainly belies his still tenders years for a Premier League skipper.
His form in east London has also carried over to St George’s Park, where he is now a vital component of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, forming a wonderful synergy with Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips as the duo work well in tandem as a double pivot.
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Such form at the London Stadium and Wembley, where Rice also helped England reach the Euro 2020 final in the summer, has naturally kept the Premier League heavyweights on their toes, with the midfielder continuing to be linked with a move to either Manchester United or Chelsea.
It is certainly no wonder why both clubs would be keeping tabs on West Ham’s stand-in skipper if Moyes’ latest comments are anything to go by, with the much-cherished West Ham boss recently branding his hard-nosed No. 6 possibly ‘the best young midfielder in Europe’.
Moyes said: “I don’t like saying it in front of him but he’s arguably one of the best young midfield players in Europe, if not the best.
“If you’re in that position, every time he plays he’s got a responsibility for himself. He plays for England. Every time he turns out he has to play really well.
“There’s pressure on him enough. He gets told off enough by me as well, so he has to live with that.
“But overall we’re really happy with Declan and what he does. His performances have been excellent and I hope it continues.”
With Rice continuing to be linked with a move to one of the division’s traditional ‘Big Six’, he has recently gone on record to quell any apprehensions West Ham fans may have, by reaffirming his commitment to the club this season, and saying just how much he relishes playing for the club.
“We’ve spoken about it lots in the past,” Rice said. “Everyone knows how I feel about West Ham and how I feel about playing under the manager and what it’s like playing with the group of players I’m playing with.
“I feel you can see in my performances nothing’s up, nothing’s concerning me. I’m playing with a smile on my face, I’m going out there, I’m leading the team.
“I think you could see a difference if I wasn’t going out there and giving 100 per cent but every time I’m putting on the shirt – I’ve got the armband on at the moment – my only objective is to go out there and give everything for the club and get three points.
“I think we can achieve good things. Last season we finished two points off the Champions League and easily could have got into that. The other night, in the League Cup, we knocked out Manchester United.
“The mentality around the place is that every competition we’re entering is one we can go on and win for sure. We want to win it.
“You can see how happy I am on the pitch, I love playing for this team and this manager. Honestly, it’s such a great place to be around at the moment. With the results and how well we’re doing, it makes it that bit more special.”