Declan Rice broke into the West Ham first-team as a central defender, forming part of David Moyes’ back five.
This season, Manuel Pellegrini opted to move him into defensive midfield. He absolutely shone there against Everton last weekend as the Hammers got their first win of the season.
But which is Rice’s best position? We’ve decided to take a closer look before coming to a verdict…
Who will he be up against?
Pellegrini has various options in both roles. After a heavy summer of spending, the former Manchester City manager can call on Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena as well as Angelo Ogbonna. Winston Reid will also offer competition when he returns from injury.
As out and out defensive midfielders go, Rice is battling it out with the experienced Carlos Sanchez. Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble are also after a place in the side as combative midfielders. Like Reid, Jack Wilshere is to return and bolster Pellegrini’s options more.
Rice was good as a central defender under Moyes last season, although he did make the odd mistake. Those errors are a tad more costly at the back and perhaps Rice doesn’t have the pace to be an elite centre-half.
With the summer spending spree, Pellegrini is arguably more well-stocked at the heart of defence as well.
Rice is his best option as a holding midfielder, even if it is a role he will have to learn. The trip to Anfield on the opening day of the season proved that.
Rice has the quality on the ball to play in central midfield, and he also adds much-needed bite and energy to the engine room.
However, other ball-playing central defenders, such as Ledley King and John Stones, have been touted as central midfielders down the years, but centre-back remained their best position.
Given the options at Pellegrini’s disposal, Rice is best served as a defensive midfielder. The Chilean doesn’t have a better option in that area of the pitch and the role allows the teenager to show off his ability on the ball.
Pellegrini should persist with Rice in midfield, making a clean break from the Moyes’ era.