England: Declan Rice claims James McClean is ‘bitter’ after Irishman dropped ‘very overrated’ dig

Lewis Oldham
England Declan Rice
Declan Rice responds to James McClean.

England midfielder Declan Rice has hit back at Wrexham winger James McClean after the Arsenal star was told he is “very overrated” and “not world-class”.

Rice enjoyed a brilliant debut season for Arsenal in 2023/24 following his £100m move from Premier League rivals West Ham United.

The centre-midfielder proved to be one of the signings of the season as he helped Arsenal take the Premier League title race to the final day.

But like most of his England teammates, Rice has struggled at Euro 2024 as his poor performance contributed to the miserable 1-1 draw against Denmark last week.

“He’s not world class…”

35-year-old Wrexham star McClean – who has played 103 times for the Republic of Ireland – recently hit out at Rice, who is “very overrated”.

“I think Declan Rice is very overrated,” McClean said.

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

“For me, he’s not world class. World class to me is someone who gets in every single side in the world and I don’t think he does that. I don’t think he gets in the Man City side ahead of Rodri. To me Toni Kroos is world class, He dictates the game, Rodri dictates the game, I don’t think Declan Rice does that.”

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McClean later added: “I made comments about Declan Rice which, you know, people have got their knickers in a twist about.

“I think, for a hundred million pound player, I want to see more than just five yards sideways and backwards passes. Like, he attempted one forward pass in the half and it went straight into the keeper’s hands. Like, I want to see him do more, break lines.”

Rice – who played three times for the Republic of Ireland in 2018 before switching allegiances – has hit back at McClean, accusing him of “being bitter”.

“It might be a bit of bitterness towards me not playing for Ireland but I’ve not got a bad word to say about him, to be honest,” Rice said.

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“I see the comments but I don’t try to put too much energy into it. It is what it is and you move on. Do you know what? I played with James for Ireland for three games and I got on with him really well.

“I am not going to sit here and slag him off. I thought he was a really top guy. When I left Ireland to come to England, I heard a few things he was obviously not happy about.

“He made comments a few years ago. I am not going to sit here and say anything about him. He’s had a great career himself – I think he is coming to the end of his career now and he’s got over a hundred caps for Ireland.

“It would be easy for me to sit here and say something back to him but, like I said, we are at opposite ends of our careers now – he’s 35 and I’m 25. I’ve known him, I’ve played with him, he’s entitled to his opinion and I’ve had to fight a load of those opinions from other people before.”

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