The Hammers youngster emerged as a first-team favourite during the last campaign under David Moyes and played a huge part in helping the club remain in the Premier League. Rice has again stepped up this season and now appears to have nailed down a place in the heart of the West Ham midfield.
The controversy surrounding Rice
There has been much controversy surrounding the 19-year-old over the last couple of weeks, following speculation over which country he should commit his international future to. The youngster has already played in friendlies for the Republic of Ireland, however, he is now deliberating as to whether to focus his attention on gaining a position in the England set-up.
That is not the only issue surrounding Rice at the moment, though, after he recently turned down a new contract with the Irons. The West Ham man’s agent believes that he deserved more than what was being offered and the Irons have now made him a new, improved offer.
Yesterday, we delivered a stats based piece on Rice’s importance to West Ham. In this article, we are going to compare him to a seasoned Premier League pro who operates in the same position as Rice, to assess the level that he is currently operating at. That player will be Nemanja Matic.
Rice vs Matic
Nemanja Matic has been one of the best holding midfielders in the Premier League over the last few years, firstly with Chelsea, and now in a Manchester United jersey. Given his experience and reputation at this level, he is the perfect player to compare Rice with to give an indication as to whether the Hammers starlet deserves a hefty new contract.
In the images below, you will see the stats of both Rice and Matic this season, across all competitions.
Although Matic’s performances in the Champions League have been included into his figures, he has still only played one more match than the Hammers youngster this season – so there is no reason for either player to have a significant advantage.
Now let’s get stuck in.
As you can see from the graphic, Rice more than holds is own across all the stats compared to Matic, coming out on top across several areas. First up, the West Ham man, albeit completing fewer actions on the field than Matic, has a total actions success rate of 8% more than the Serbian.
Neither player has registered a goal, but the Irons midfielder has one assist to his name, while the United man has none. He does redeem himself slightly with shots taken, though, with his 0.61 per game, compared to Rice’s 0.15. The 19-year-old hasn’t had a shot on target this campaign yet, but Matic has forced the opposing ‘keepers to thwart him 19.7% of the time.
Rice’s pass accuracy has been superb this season, as he holds a better record than his fellow midfielder at 93%. He also comes out on top in terms of cross accuracy and successful dribbles, with the Serb number one for successful long passes made.
While participating in fewer duels, Rice has a better record for both duels won and aerial duels won so far this season. To go alongside that, the West Ham academy product has made over 1.5 more interceptions than Matic, at 7.55 per game.
It is the Red Devil who has lost possession more out of the pair, but Rice has a slightly higher percentage of 55% of his giveaways being in his own half. The Hammer makes up for that with recoveries made, though, with a superb record of 14.21 per game, compared to Matic’s 12.27, with Rice making over 9% more of those in the oppositions’ half than the United midfielder.
Just to show that Rice, despite his age, also has a strong mentality and discipline to his game, he has a much better disciplinary record than Matic. The youngster has received 0.15 yellows per match and no red cards, compared to the Serbs 0.24 cautions and 0.12 sending offs this campaign.
Declan Rice is so far having an excellent season, and on the face of it, a much better one than seasoned Premier League star Nemanja Matic. The Hammers man has been superior in terms of duels won, on the floor and in the air, across various passing percentages and also with his discipline.
These stats prove the level that Rice is currently operating at and shows that he is worth every penny of the current offer that is on the table from West Ham. The Irons starlet is showing the credentials of being a future captain for the East Londoners, and it is crucial that the Hammers get him signed on the dotted line as soon as possible.