‘I’ve seen him enough’ – Souness doubles down on Declan Rice criticism after backlash

Will Ford
Souness warns Man Utd star
Graeme Souness speaking on a TV broadcast

Graeme Souness has doubled down on his criticism of Declan Rice after the England international claimed his first shot at him was “harsh”.

“This midfield role is a vital part of any team because in an ideal world, it’s multi-dimensional – you are creative, you chip in with goals and you’ve got a defensive head at all times,” Souness wrote last month.

“If you’ve got all three of those attributes, you’re worth your weight in gold. For me, Rice has just one of them.”

In response Rice said “I think it’s harsh because Souness doesn’t watch West Ham every week.”

The West Ham captain illustrated in England’s 2-1 win over Italy on Thursday that he is at the very least a two-dimensional player, defending brilliantly and popping up with the opening goal.

And yet, Souness has reiterated his feelings on Rice, stating once again that the midfielder has much to do to be considered a world class midfielder.

‘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,’ Souness wrote in his Daily Mail column.

‘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?’

‘The bottom line is that at 24 he must constantly challenge himself to get better.’

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