Declan Rice has enjoyed a brilliant season as a holding midfielder, becoming a mainstay in West Ham’s side before earning his full England debut in that role.
But the 20-year-old burst into the Hammers lineup last term as a central defender, before Manuel Pellegrini thrust him into the engine room to compensate for the loss of Carlos Sanchez.
And Rice has done so well in that role that his manager Manuel Pellegrini feels he can go on emulate the man who has essentially set the standard in that role across world football, N’Golo Kante.
According to Total Football, page 9, 07/04, Pellegrini said: “All the good players in Declan’s position must see Kante and the ways in which they can improve. He’s a complete player.
“Declan is listening to what he has to do to improve. Every game he is improving in that position so it’s good for him not to change.”
The irony is that Kante is widely regarded as the world’s best holding midfielder but has been redeployed by Maurizio Sarri this season.
Sarri’s passing style of football means that Jorginho is a better option at the base of midfield, with the Italian preferring to use Kante’s pressing ability higher up the pitch.
But Rice could definitely do worse than copying the World Cup winner, and he has the quality to become one of the world’s best in his position, now he looks to be becoming a holding midfielder rather than a centre-half.