I thought Graeme Souness’ criticism of Declan Rice was pretty harsh.
Graeme believes that to be a world-class midfielder you need to create and score more goals. He believes Declan doesn’t.
But you can rattle off plenty of names that don’t score many points – N’Golo Kante, Casemiro, Rodri, Thomas Partey and Toni Kroos to name a few.
To me, Declan is world class. This kid plays so many games a year and is just a young man getting used to it.
I know the average football fan will say, “That’s what he gets paid for”.
No, he gets paid to play football for a season, not a season and a half in a season.
And despite all that, he’s still West Ham’s best player and one of England’s best players.
He will only get better. He has a ceiling that could continue to rise.
I’ve seen people say ‘I wouldn’t pay £80m for him’. Come on, give me a break. He’s a real player.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool would all bite his hand off.
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When players like Rice show up we all say this kid is great, but if they fall below 8 out of 10 then they’re not good enough. It’s crazy.
Rice would definitely have seen what Souness said about him and he responded really well to that in a press conference ahead of England’s win over Italy. A mature answer.
As a gamer, when you hear or see things like this, you think, “Is this actually affecting me and my life?”
But personally I don’t think Declan would have cared all that much.
Why? Because Declan – born in 1999 – didn’t grow up with Souness, who retired in 1991.
I like Graeme, he’s a good expert and a top man, but I don’t think players in modern football put too much value on his opinion.
He is a professional who has had a lot of success in his own career.
But guys these days would make more of a fuss if they heard from those they remember watching a game like a Yaya Toure or a Steven Gerrard.
Dec probably reflected his play on these two.
I remember when Thierry Henry mentioned my name on Sky Sports in my first season in the Premier League, it was like God speaking to me.
I will never forget it because he was someone I grew up with and that meant a lot to me.
If Dion Dublin – who is a good friend of mine and was a good player – had said it, it wouldn’t have meant so much because I never grew up wanting to be him. That’s how players think.
In the NBA, people debate LeBron James or Michael Jordan, but the game has evolved — and so has football.
The likes of Souness, for all his talent and success, supported his game by being a tough guy with crunchy tackles, half of which wouldn’t be legal today.
It might sound like a wild statement, but Souness couldn’t have matched the Premier League midfielders of today in his pomp.
On a pure fitness level, James Milner would run anywhere on Prime Souness at his current age.
The game is now sportier. Look at the pitches, the money, the analytics.
The Souness era had a big drinking culture, but these guys don’t even go on vacation now, and when they do, they work out at the same time.
Look at the boys like Jude Bellingham. Regardless of their skills, just the physical dominance of these guys, they are worlds apart.
They’re all monsters, thoroughbred horses.
Just to be clear, like Graeme, I’m just giving my opinion here.
But it’s very easy to define what you think a world-class midfielder looks like, based on decades of experience.
Times have changed, and so has football.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7714530/troy-deeney-declan-rice-souness-england/ Graeme Souness is wrong about Rice… but Declan won’t care too much what he thinks