West Ham United‘s Declan Rice has revealed that he now sees himself as a box-to-box midfielder rather than someone who “just sits in front of the back four”.
The 22-year-old England international has been given the licence to roam further forward for club and country this campaign, which has seen him score four goals and provide three assists as a result, three more goal contributions than in the whole of last season.
Rice is keen to improve his all-round game as a complete midfielder and while he has mentioned Premier League icons Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure as players who he idolises, he also has ambitions to reach the same heights as current Manchester City duo Rodri and Fernandinho, who he has labelled as “top players”.
“I want to be progressive and athletic. I feel like I can do that in a midfield sense. I feel like now I’m not just a holding midfielder anymore,” Rice told Football Insider.
“I was always labelled as one that just sits in front of the back four, I really now want to see myself as a box-to-box player where I can get up and down and start creating things as well as getting back and helping the team as well. There is still a long way to go and I can improve so much.”
Rice added: “Vieira and Yaya are the ones [I looked up to]. Look at who you’re playing against here. Rodri and Fernandinho are top, top players on and off the ball, and you want to reach those kind of levels as well.”
As captain, Rice has played every minute in the Premier League for West Ham this season, as well as featuring four times in the Europa League.