West Ham manager David Moyes is convinced that Declan Rice can succeed playing further forward, and not just in the holding midfield role.
The 22-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League’s leading anchor men, patrolling in front of West Ham’s back four to great effect over the last 18 months in particular.
Rice is not only a regular starter for West Ham in that role, he’s also one of the first names on the team sheet for Gareth Southgate and England – evidenced by his prominent role in the Three Lions’ run through to the final of the European Championship this past summer.
But over the past few months, Rice has also shown – and spoken of – a willingness to push further forward, leading many to speculate over whether he should playing in a more of a box-to-box midfielder role for West Ham.
Speaking ahead of West Ham’s trip to Leeds, Moyes revealed his belief that Rice can indeed have more of an influence in the final third, adding he has the ability to be more prolific in front of goal.
“I think that Declan can do both,” Moyes said when asked what role suits Rice better. “I think Dec can sit and play in front of the back four and I think he’s got the ability to join in and get further forward.
“I think he’s got the ability to score more goals, we’re just beginning to see that a bit from Dec now. We’re beginning to see him getting a bit closer, a few more shots, he scored at Zagreb the other week as well so certainly signs of that and he’s trying to try to take his game on again which is terrific to see.
Moyes also spoke on Rice’s partnership with Kalvin Phillips for England, whom the Hammers will come against when they take on Leeds. The 25-year-old is a similar type of player to Rice and the Scot admitted he’s long admired how good he is, adding that both have plenty of scope to improve because they have time on their side.
“I’m a big admirer of Kalvin Phillips and have been for a long time. Every time I went to watch Leeds, and when I was out of work and they won the Championship, I was always thinking he looked a really influential player and a real prospect.
“I think he has stepped up really quickly, I think he got into the England squad when maybe other people were suggested in front of him but I think he’s done well.
“The partnership with Declan and Kalvin Phillips has been really good. They are both incredibly energetic, they are both improving players. Kalvin is 25, Declan’s 22, I think you’ve got to say they are young midfield players and they have lots of room to get better because of their age. I’m sure as they mature and understand it better they will.”