Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea told why top midfield target is ‘still not doing enough’ to warrant £100m price tag

Declan Rice and Ben Johnson of West Ham

Graeme Souness has once again reiterated his belief that West Ham midfielder Declan Rice is not justifying the price tag that is warranting major interest from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

The 24-year-old has established himself as one of the top defensive midfielders in the Premier League with his consistent performances in a Hammers shirt that have also made him Gareth Southgate’s first choice to shield England’s defence.

Rice has now made 200 appearances at club level and also has 40 Three Lions caps to his name, playing a major role at Euro 2020 and the World Cup in Qatar late last year.

His performances continue to see big-hitters Arsenal, Chelsea and United linked with a move. However, David Moyes is standing firm in his £100million valuation of the player in the hope it wards suitors off.

Rice is finally expected to quit the London Stadium this summer and there will be no shortage of takers, with the Gunners still favourites to strike a deal. But Souness still thinks Rice has to show that he has more to his game to warrant that hefty price tag.

“‘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 told the Daily Mail.

“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.”

Rice urged to be more forward-thinking

And while Souness cannot argue with Rice‘s defensive qualities, it’s his quality on the ball that the Liverpool legend still wants to see much more.

He added: “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.”

Rice is expected to be handed another start as England face Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday evening.

As for the Hammers, Moyes’ men are back in action on April 2 when they host Southampton in a massive six-pointer.

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