By Jonty Banks

24th Mar, 2023 | 8:10pm

Graeme Souness criticises West Ham United captain Declan Rice again despite goal in England win v Italy

Graeme Souness has once again criticised Declan Rice’s lack of attacking ambition despite the West Ham United captain scoring for England against Italy on Thursday night (23 March).

Gareth Southgate’s side came away 2-1 victors against the Euro 2020 champions at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with Rice netting a first-half opener to set the Three Lions along their way.

Souness has previously admitted [Daily Mail, 10 February] that he could see the 24-year-old morphing into a centre-back due to his lack of attacking ambition, and the pundit has now waded in on round two in his latest Daily Mail column.

Before England’s opening fixture of their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, Rice brushed off the criticism by saying that Souness didn’t watch West Ham on a weekly basis and couldn’t, therefore, reasonably lodge these criticisms.

However Souness has hit back, writing: “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.”


Souness is starting to look like he has an agenda against Rice.

The England midfielder was quite simply immense all the way through the gritty 2-1 win, delivering his defensive duties perfectly and popping up with a well-taken goal to quieten his critics.

In the first half of the crunch clash, the Hammers captain was at his very best, linking up superbly with Jude Bellingham and playing passes through the Italian midfield lines time after time.

And although Italy grew into the encounter as the game went on, Rice stuck to his task and untimely came out on the winning side.

What Rice has to do please Souness is a mystery.

Week after week, the pundit comes out in criticism of the midfielder, and even when he does score a goal, Souness isn’t happy.

At this point, Rice should just ignore what Souness has to say about his game and knuckle down to help West Ham draw clear of the relegation zone.