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Declan Rice £150 million tag: Is he worth it?

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By Martin Graham | 2nd Jun 2022

It is not news that West Ham United, on the behest of manager David Moyes, has pegged a British record £150 million tag on star midfielder Declan Rice.

In July 2021, when Rice was being valued at £100 million, the Scotsman told The Athletic it would take “Bank of England money” to sell Rice. “I don’t agree with the owners that Declan Rice is a £100 million footballer,” Moyes said. 

“Far, far more than £100 million. I look at the players who have joined some clubs from overseas and come in and had nowhere near the impact Declan Rice would have.

“I certainly wouldn’t put a price on it. The owners think he’s worth £100 million — well, I completely disagree with that.”

Anybody who follows the Premier League will understand where the former Everton boss is coming from. West Ham’s ascent in the past three seasons have been largely due to his assured performances in the middle of the park.

Rice is a leader at West Ham

His leadership qualities at 23 years old are also top notch, with all of West Ham looking up to him as he deputised for Mark Noble game in, game out. There is no way the top clubs would not take notice of these and intensify their efforts to lure the midfielder away from the London Stadium.

It is therefore no surprise that Moyes insisted in the course of the 2021/22 season that his prized midfielder is now worth £150 million, no more, no less.

But is he really worth that much? Let’s look at his stats compared to other defensive and central midfielders.

Compared to two of the top DMs in the league, Manchester City’s Rodrigo Cascante ‘Rodri’ and Liverpool’s Fabinho, Rice has better defensive capabilities.

The young Englishman averaged 0.6 blocks per game compared to Rodri’s 0.2 and Fabinho’s 0.3. Rice committed 0.8 fouls per game compared to Rodri’s 1.3 and Fabinho’s 1.4. His pass interception rate of 1.8 passes per match also dwarfed Rodri’s 0.8 and Fabinho’s 1.4.

In his primary role of breaking up attacks and leading the transition, he is possibly the top talent in the Premier League and it is for this reason that he is highly coveted.

The verdict

Despite Rice’s evident values and the hyper-inflation in today’s market, £150 million is an unreasonable price tag for a defensive midfielder.

Man City may have spent £100 million on Jack Grealish and Manchester United may have spent £90 million on Paul Pogba. Both are central/attacking midfielders who play a lot closer to goal.

Defensive midfielders, however, are unwise investments at that price because of their major role of providing a screen for their team’s defence. Instead of spending £100 million or £150 million for one DM, a club can easily spend that much to buy a whole new defence, or employ a coach who can shape the current defence.

And with Rice’s strengths lying primarily in his ability to provide cover for the defence – his attacking stats, bar his ball progression, do not measure up to the others in any way – spending that much will not provide enough returns for any club.

But for West Ham, this could be a tactic to get clubs to submit bids of between £50 million and £60 million which will surely be worth it for someone of his talents.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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