Arsenal star told he is ‘very overrated’ as England praise ‘completely over the top’

Jason Soutar
Arsenal and England midfielder Declan Rice is "very overrated", according to James McClean
Declan Rice is "very overrated", according to James McClean

Arsenal and England midfielder Declan Rice is “a very good footballer” but is also “very overrated”, according to former Ireland winger James McClean.

The Gunners signed Rice from London rivals West Ham United for over £100million last July.

He made an immediate impact at the Emirates, helping them finish second in the Premier League, narrowly behind champions Manchester City.

Arsenal were brilliant in 2022/23 but they went to a different level with Rice in the midfield, becoming the best defensive side in the country.

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Rice is also a vitally important player for England and one of the first names on the teamsheet.

He starts as a No. 6 in Gareth Southgate’s system, allowing Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jude Bellingham to express themselves in the Three Lions’ midfield.

While there is an abundance of talent in Southgate’s squad, there is no doubting Rice’s importance in the middle of the park.

Declan Rice is ‘very overrated’ and ‘not world class’

There are not many people who doubt Rice’s ability but former Premier League attacker McClean is not convinced he is a “world class” player.

McClean clearly rates the 25-year-old but he does not understand the hype in the English media, claiming it “is completely over the top”.

“I feel Declan Rice is very overrated,” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a very good footballer, but the way the English media wax lyrical about him is completely over the top.

“For me, he’s not world class. To me world class is someone who gets in every side in the world. I don’t think he does that.

“I don’t think he gets in the Man City side ahead of Rodri. I know Toni Kross is now retiring, but to me Toni Kroos is world class. He dictates the game, Rodri dictates the game, I don’t think Declan Rice does that.

“He’s not someone who is going get on the half-turn and play passes forward. He is very good at what he does.”

Rice made three uncompetitive appearances for the Republic of Ireland in 2018, playing centre-back in a 1-0 defeat to Turkey and in defensive midfield against France and the United States.

McClean and Rice started together in all three matches but the former West Ham midfielder decided to commit to playing for England, similar to Jack Grealish, who played six times for Ireland’s Under-21 side.

Is he bitter…? You can decide on that one in the comments. Join the debate here.

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