After a fantastic win over London rivals Chelsea, West Ham United could finally be ready to move on from long-time servant Mark Noble.
Noble has been an excellent servant for West Ham over the last sixteen years. The Canning Town-born midfielder has played almost 500 times for the Hammers, he has scored 60 goals and assisted 59 in that time, being appointed the nickname ‘Mr West Ham”.
There was a time when the Hammers almost went two years without winning a game when Noble was not involved in the match. This was down to the 33-year-old not suffering injuries often but also how crucial his leadership was on the pitch.
Noble has never been the most talented player on the pitch but has always shown passion and all the traits a captain requires. This is why it has been so hard to replace the veteran, the Englishman has been consistent and players that have been recruited have not managed to provide what Noble does.
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Rice was originally a centre-back but has been transformed into a world-class defensive midfielder. The former Chelsea Academy player is brilliant at protecting the back-four with tackles and interceptions. The England international is also making his leadership traits known.
Rice was given the captain’s armband for the game against Chelsea and he truly excelled with the added pressure. One bonus of football being played without the fans in the stadium is the ability to hear players talk on the pitch, and Rice was one of the loudest.
The youngster is also capable of chipping in at the other end of the pitch, scoring two and assisting three since he cemented his place in the team. Although the number may not seem high, they are just a bonus considering what Rice’s role is.
Since Rice made the midfield spot his own, he has desperately needed an athletic midfielder next to him that can affect proceedings at both ends of the pitch. Many players have come and gone after failing to make the grade.
Until now, West Ham has finally found the midfielder thy have been crying out for since the days of Slaven Bilic‘s tenure. Bilic wanted William Carvalho to be that man, but a move failed to materialise. Years have gone by and the Hammers have now signed a box-to-box midfielder who can help soften the blow once Noble retires.
Tomas Soucek arrived on loan from SK Silvia Prague in January and has been perfect in his short time in a West Ham shirt. The Czech international is a proper workhorse on the pitch, working hard in defence and getting forward when needed.
Soucek was finally rewarded for his hard work, he scored a brilliant header against Chelsea in the Hammers 3-2 victory, after initially having a goal controversially ruled out by VAR. The Czech is still young, at only 24-years-old could become a crucial player for West Ham for years to come, should the Hammers survive relegation and make his move permanent.
Noble will be fondly remembered by West Ham fans when he does inevitably hang up the boots But, he can do so safe in the knowledge the midfield will be in good hands for the foreseeable future.