As West Ham lost at the Etihad Stadium, England midfielder Rice showed he wouldn’t look out of place in any of the Premier League’s biggest sides – and while a West Ham exit certainly isn’t urgent, it offers more food for thought
An hour ahead of kick-off, the Etihad sound system boomed out a version of Vanilla Ice’s 1990 hit Ice, Ice Baby.
This 2021 rendition has been reworked as Rice, Rice Baby and is sung by Declan Rice. Obviously.
Apparently, it was a social media thing. Treat yourself and Google it.
He is a bit of a character, Declan – and a heck of a footballer.
It would be an insult to West Ham United, to the player and to David Moyes to describe every game against one of the powerhouse teams as some sort of audition for Rice.
Anyway, we have all seen enough of Rice to know he would fit into any of the Premier League’s realistic title contenders. And we all know who needs him most. The team down the road from here.
But whenever you see Rice lead West Ham with such distinction – and he was not even at his best against City – it is hard not to wonder where his long-term club future will lie.
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Action Images via Reuters)
It would be lovely to believe it will be in East London, leading the club into some sort of brave, new era when they can even fight for the game’s greatest honours.
But the gap to what is now a Big Three, steadily detaching themselves from the rest, is still a huge one to bridge.
There is no desperate urgency at the moment – Rice does not turn 23 until early next year – but the England midfielder will want to be playing in the Champions League before long.
There is still a chance he could be doing it with West Ham next season because even though City won this without being anywhere near top form, West Ham could yet be best of the rest.
Especially with Rice as their leader and talisman.
He made a string of important interventions to help keep City from going further ahead after Ilkay Gundogan’s opener and made a late upfield surge that could have led to an equaliser before Fernandinho struck.
What did you make of Man City’s performance against West Ham? Rate the players below
Alas, he could not make the difference and Manuel Lanzini’s late hit gave a tightness to the scoreline that was not a fair reflection of the proceedings.
Rice will know that. There is no suggestion Rice has begun to get itchy feet. In fact, he looks fantastically content.
But this was just another reminder of the standards he could be enjoying, week in, week out.