West Ham midfielder, Manuel Lanzini, recently claimed that young teammate Declan Rice has what it takes to become the next Javier Mascherano. But can the 20-year-old really follow the illustrious footsteps of the Argentine?
Mascherano burst into the limelight with the Hammers after joining as a relatively unknown prospect from Corinthians in 2006. The 34-year-old would move on to greater things at Liverpool and Barcelona.
Having slotted alongside the pair, Lanzini believes they are similar. According to the 26-year-old, Rice plays with stylish vigour exhibiting superb touches, recovery and maturity.
“He is [like Mascherano],” Rice told Premier League. “I played with Mascherano and he is a very good player. He is 20 and I think Declan needs to continue like this if he stays focused and I think he can be better than Mascherano.”
Indeed, the duo is alike. Like Mascherano, he can play in central defence and midfield, using his mobility to and agility to avoid the press which is a valuable commodity in the faster paced Premier League.
Rice possesses an excellent range of passing, enabling him to control the game from deeper positions. His technique is also majestic which makes it easier for him to slot into a side that likes to keep possession of the ball.
The 20-year-old has added defensive focus, steadfast aggression, positional discipline and ball-winning qualities to West Ham’s midfield. He has utterly transformed the team’s tactical approach, making it harder to break down and giving them a more solid central platform that allows Mark Noble, Lanzini and others to attack.
Rice’s physical attributes is an advantage, though, over the Argentine. Last weekend’s strike against Newcastle United is his second of the season. Mascherano, meanwhile, managed that same tally in a dozen years in Europe.
The midfielder declared his intent to represent England at the national team level. Should he keep up the form, you might like to check out the latest odds offered by omegatipsters for the Three Lions in 2020 European Cup qualifiers.