Graeme Souness has restated his criticism of Declan Rice after the footballer expressed that Souness’ initial comments were unfair, as relays the F365.
Last month, Souness wrote about the importance of midfielders having multiple skills, such as creativity, goal-scoring ability, and defensive prowess. He then claimed that Rice possessed only one of these attributes. In response, Rice disagreed and suggested that Souness did not watch him play regularly for West Ham.
However, Rice’s recent performance for England against Italy, where he both defended well and scored a goal, demonstrated his abilities as a two-dimensional player. Despite this, Souness has maintained his opinion that Rice has a long way to go before he can be considered a top-class midfielder.
Writing in his Daily Mail column, Graeme Souness explained:‘In an earlier column this season, I wrote that Declan Rice still had much to prove in certain areas of his game to be regarded as a really top-class central midfield player,’
‘He needs to get on the half-turn more when he receives the ball from his defenders and play it forward more, and not be content with going back to where it came from and square with his passes. And he needs to chip in with more goals. He has scored twice in the Premier League this season in 26 games and it’s not enough.
‘Now Rice has said his piece, too. He thinks that my criticism is ‘harsh’ and that I don’t see him play every week. That’s true. But I have seen him enough, for West Ham and for England.
‘I watched the game against Italy and the same things were on show. Any world-class midfield player is on the half-turn most of the time and looking to play forwards. How many times did Rice do that in Naples? Not nearly enough for me. Get some videos of Kroos and Modric playing in their midfield roles for Real Madrid. Or go back a few years and watch Paul Scholes.
‘As we saw against Italy, he has mastered the defensive side of the job. But I just think he has to strive to be better and never be content with his lot. That’s what great players do.
‘Will he end up one day as a central defender — which I think is very possible — or does he want to be a top, top central midfield player starring in the Champions League every season?
‘I bet Declan is a cracking lad to work with and popular with his team-mates and great to manage.
‘But he needs to aim for the stars. This is just my opinion. But I think he should ask himself one question as he moves his career forwards — ‘How do I become a truly world-class player?’