West Ham managed to clinch a Europa Conference League spot on the final day of the season despite losing 3-1 at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion, although a win and all three points would have seen them leapfrog Manchester United into a Europa League place after the Red Devils also lost away from home.
In a matter of a few weeks, West Ham have gone from dreaming of a Europa League final and potentially Champions League football to a spot in the Europa Conference League, which may make it more difficult to attract top players and even keep their own such as Rice.
While Rice is well-known for his ability as a solid central midfielder – ranking inside the top 10 for tackles made this season – Thomlinson has revealed a side to his game many may not know about.
He said: “I genuinely believe now we’re looking at one of the future world-class talents in that role, and he’s not just a defensive midfielder anymore – I think by yards carried on the ball, he’s up there amongst one of the best in the entirety of Europe.
“He’s actually added a couple of goals to his game this season, which, whenever you speak to West Ham players, or West Ham coaches or anybody like that, they say that in training he’s the best finisher, he’s so good in and around the box, I think that’s definitely something he’s going to look to add to his game – not that he really needs to.”
TIF Thoughts on Rice…
After missing out on Champions League and Europa League football for next season, that could well make West Ham’s position over Rice’s future at the London Stadium significantly weaker as he will likely be wanting to play in the biggest matches in the biggest competitions.
Rice has reportedly been identified as a summer transfer target for both Manchester United and Manchester City, so if the Hammers had pipped the former to the last Europa League spot, that could have ruled them out of the race to secure his signature. Therefore, that final day defeat could well come back to haunt them.