Newcastle United‘s latest draw with West Ham United will no doubt have provided Magpies boss Eddie Howe with the chance to take a closer look at Declan Rice in the opposition midfield, with the England international having seemingly emerged as a possible target for the Tynesiders of late.
According to Football Insider, the St James’ Park outfit could be ‘in the running’ to sign the 24-year-old this summer should they secure Champions League qualification at the end of the season, albeit with a number of the Premier League’s leading clubs also in the mix at present.
The report suggests that the one-time Chelsea youth product could command a fee of around £80m if he is to move on in the near future, with the Hammers skipper having just 18 months remaining on his existing deal at the London Stadium.
As pundit Paul Robinson stated, a move to the northeast could well be a “very tempting proposition” for the £60k-per-week maestro if the club can seal a top-four finish, with it set to be a real coup if Howe and co can persuade Rice to make the switch later this year.
The 6 foot 1 sensation will have only enhanced his standing among those at Newcastle as a result of his display on Saturday, having been the “game’s outstanding player“, in the words of Daily Mail journalist, Craig Hope.
That standout showing illustrated the array of the highly-coveted gem’s talents, as he recorded three interceptions and made 12 recoveries in his 90-minute outing, while he also provided six passes into the final third to illustrate his forward-thinking approach.
The 39-cap man’s most telling contribution came for the visitors’ equaliser, with Rice producing a lovely, inswinging corner that eventually found its way to Lucas Paqueta to fire home at the back post.
That standout showing – which earned the commanding ace a 7.6 match rating, as per FotMob – was also lauded by 90min’s Tom Gott, who awarded the player an 8/10 match rating, while also stating: ‘His physicality was far too much for Newcastle, who couldn’t match his tempo-setting intelligence either.’
Such a performance has been the norm for the Kingston-born ace so far this season despite West Ham’s struggles, as he notably averages 2.3 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game this season, with that a better record than that of current Newcastle trio, Sean Longstaff (1.1, 0.6), Joe Willock (1.6, 0.6) and Bruno Guimaraes (2.2, 1.2).
With Howe and co having seen their midfield ranks depleted by the departure of Jonjo Shelvey last month – having been unable to acquire a suitable recruit – it could well be that the summer is where that area of the pitch is finally addressed.
Bringing in Rice as that solution would surely be a dream scenario, with the Irons talisman simply the type of figure that the Newcastle boss “craves in the middle of the park“, as per Hope.