Life after Rice: What might West Ham look like ‘post-Rice?’

Declan Rice, West Ham. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Declan Rice, West Ham. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

As much as we are reluctant to admit it, there is a chance West Ham might lose Declan Rice one day.

There seem to be a few inevitabilities looming in the future of contemporary football. An Erling Haaland move will break transfer records, Steven Gerrard will manage Liverpool, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will never retire, and so on.

Unfortunately for West Ham fans, the exit of Rice at some point over the next few windows feels as inevitable as his ongoing evolution into a juggernaut of a midfielder.

West Ham unfortunately might sell Declan Rice one day. But a ‘Rice-less’ Irons doesn’t have to be bad news.

Declan Rice of West Ham United controls the ball. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Declan Rice of West Ham United controls the ball. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) /

But what would selling Rice result in for West Ham? Well, a lot of money, firstly. However, we know that a large transfer fee for a talismanic player does not always translate into an equivalent success. Can you even name the players Spurs bought with the Gareth Bale money?

Money aside, I think Hammers fans do not have to stay up all night worrying about the post-Rice era. Yes, he is our best player and yes, he is our most important player, but the games over the last two seasons in which he has missed, have been promising.

Couple that with David Moyes‘ brilliant ability in the transfer market and the workhorse attitude instilled in our squad, and I think the post-Rice days can be an exciting time to look forward to, rather than one to fear.

Let’s go back to April 2021, West Ham fans were having the time of their lives. Holding on to a top four spot seemed like a genuine possibility. Nine games left and feeling of unstoppability. And then, tweets started to arise, articles started to be written, a horrible rumour began circulating online; every Hammer prayed it wasn’t true, until it was confirmed that Rice was injured. We all feared the season would crumble.

However, Moyes showed during the six games in which Rice was out that West Ham was deeper than the talisman. In those half dozen games the Hammers won three and lost three. This might not sound too special, but the three losses included a game against Newcastle in which West Ham went down to 10 men early and still nearly nicked it;  and a tight 1-0 loss to that season’s Champions League winners, Chelsea, where we also unfairly had a player sent off.

Moyes during that spell tried some nuanced ideas such as, playing the now back to his best Manuel Lanzini in a deeper role and bringing in Mark Noble on occasion. He showed that without Rice there is still a team there that can challenge the best.

Even this season, the one game that saw Rice on the sidelines due to suspension was a 4-1 win away win against Watford. Jarrod Bowen ran the show and Nikola Vlasic got his first West Ham goal.

I think the point to be made here is not that Rice is expendable but that the team, of which he is a vital part, functions without him. The 22-year-old is unbelievable and continues to improve but his probable departure should not feel like the end of this exciting West Ham era because the whole squad and the coaching staff are responsible for that.

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