‘Fantastic’ Declan Rice is hailed as a ‘pleasure to watch’ by Joe Cole after starring in West Ham’s win over Rapid Vienna… while Carlton Cole believes ‘anyone on this planet’ would want the midfielder in their team
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has been hailed as a ‘pleasure to watch’ after he delivered another superb performance in his side’s Europa League victory against Rapid Vienna on Thursday night.
Rice has attracted interest from a host of elite clubs after starring for his current team, and he has also dazzled on the European stage, scoring in both of West Ham’s two group stage matches so far.
After he found the target again at the London Stadium, inspiring his team-mates on to another impressive result, he was lauded by BT Sport’s pundits, who suggested ‘any team on the planet’ would want him.
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has been lauded after his starring role against Rapid Vienna
‘He saw the space and he attacked it, and that’s a skill that certain midfielders have got,’ club legend Joe Cole, a product of West Ham’s academy like Rice, said.
‘It’s something that can be learned. Some are more natural than others, but Declan Rice is just putting different parts of his game together. He’s evolving as a player.
‘It was only two years ago that people were thinking, “oh, maybe he’s going to drop back into becoming a centre half”, and he’d probably be a top centre half.
Joe Cole, a West Ham legend, says Rice is a ‘pleasure to watch’ and is still evolving as a player
Rice was teed up expertly by Michail Antonio to tap home the first goal in West Ham’s victory
‘But he’s also got the ability to go the other way and score goals. He’s just a fantastic player and he’s really taken the team by the scruff of the neck over the last five or six games. I’ve watched him and he’s coming on bundles. He’s a pleasure to watch.’
Rice netted the first goal of the game, tapping home shortly before the half-hour mark after Michail Antonio fired the ball across to match his run from deep.
Carlton Cole, another West Ham great, also lauded the 22-year-old’s heroics, and admitted he can see why several teams are scrambling to sign him.
‘Because he’s so important to that team, I was surprised that he didn’t come off quite early,’ Cole said. ‘I thought he’d come off instead of Nobes [Mark Noble].
After his goal, Rice has now netted in both of the team’s two Europa League fixtures so far
Carlton Cole (right) believes that ‘anyone on his planet’ would want Rice to be on their team
‘But he’s the type of player that wants to play on all the time and it doesn’t matter whether they’re winning, losing, he wants to stay on the pitch.
‘That’s why he’s an integral part of this team. When the other players see him still on (the pitch) they know the game is still on.
‘He’s the future, hopefully the future! Because he’s such a player, anyone on this planet would want him on his team.’
Despite the ongoing speculation over his long-term future, Rice has insisted he is happy at West Ham – despite him having turned down two contract offers.
Earlier this week, Rice insisted he is happy at West Ham despite turning contract offers down
‘Everyone knows how I feel about West Ham and I feel about playing under the manager and what it’s like playing with the group of players I’m playing with,’ he said.
‘I feel you can see in my performances nothing’s up, nothing’s concerning me. I’m playing with a smile on my face, I’m going out there, I’m leading the team.
‘I think you could see a difference if I wasn’t giving 100 per cent but every time I’m putting on the shirt my only objective is to give everything for the club.’
Rice has three years left on his deal, with the option of a further year.