So far this season, Rice has been one of David Moyes’ standout performers in the Premier League, making an average of 1.9 tackles, 1.9 interceptions, one clearance and 0.8 key passes per match over his 26 league appearances, as well as averaging an impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.00 – ranking him as the club’s fourth-best performer in the top flight.
And, speaking in a recent video for Leeds Live, Cross heaped a considerable amount of praise on Rice’s display in the reverse fixture of Monday evening’s clash between Leeds and West Ham, in which the Hammers ran out 2-1 winners at Elland Road back in December.
He said: “I haven’t looked at the numbers, but [Tomas Soucek] and Rice have basically [played] 35 games in a row together now – the stability they’ve got in the middle there is frightening.
“Rice is not somebody I’ve looked at closely, but I saw him in that game and I can see what the hype is all about – very, very solid player, just exactly what a team needs at the spine.”
Do you think Rice can guide West Ham to a top-four finish?
TIF Thoughts on Beren Cross’ comments regarding Declan Rice…
Indeed, as Cross suggests, Rice’s performance at Elland Road was certainly impressive, with the £32k-per-week midfielder making two interceptions, two key passes and earning a WhoScored match rating of 7.04 against Marcelo Bielsa’s side last year.
It is performances like this that have made Rice an indispensable part of the West Ham side over recent years, and ones that have massively aided the club’s ambitions of securing Champions League football for next season – something which, if a positive result can be attained from the visit of Leeds on Monday, would be well within the Hammers’ reach with just 11 games of the season left to play.