Hence the hype: Declan Rice leads Premier League central midfielders in ball progression in the final third, by passing and dribbling

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 28. rujna 2021.

Hence the hype: Declan Rice leads Premier League central midfielders in ball progression in the final third, by passing and dribbling

West Ham's vice-captain Declan Rice has been the target of interest by several top six clubs, most notably Manchester United and his former youth team Chelsea. With the €22-year-old already picking up 26 caps for England and making 137 Premier League appearances for WHU. His overall basic stats are perhaps a bit under the expectations for a player linked with such high price-tags as him, scoring only six professional goals and making seven assists.

But it is in the advanced metrics and in the eye-test that Rice shines.

The central midfielder is the best individual in his position out of all his colleagues in the Premier League in perhaps the most important metric for a CM. Ball progression into the final third.

Rice also does it in both ways, by passing the ball forward and by carrying it - that is dribbling it - towards the opponents’ goal.

Declan has most passes into the final third amongst Premier League central midfielders, edging out Ruben Neves who has 48, while Rice recorded 49. For comparison, third-place Youri Tielemans is at 42 passes into the final third this season, while Jordan Henderson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg dropped down considerably with 31 and 30 respectfully.

In terms of carries into the final third amongst PL CMs, Rice did it 20 times in the six first games. More than Emile Smith Rowe at 18, and Bruno Fernandes at 17. While the two might belong as attacking midfielders more, making Rice's success even that more impressive. Mateo Kovacic is fourth with 14 and another AM Bernardo Silva is fifth with 13 carries.

Rice also leads the Premier League in the total distance of ball carrying, meaning the number of yards he travelled with the ball in his feet - 2,520. Next in line are three Manchester City players, Ruben Dias, Jack Grealish, and Joao Cancelo with 2,299, 2,195, and 1,928 years of ball carry in any direction.

Now the reports are saying West Ham will be willing to sell him for €104,000,000, more than the sum he was rumoured with last years which was around €80,000,000. With the Hammers' assistant coach Kevin Nolan saying he wouldn't sell Rice even for the record sum of €117,000,000 for which Grealish was signed this summer.


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