By Jonty Banks

10th Feb, 2023 | 9:10pm

Graeme Souness: Declan Rice could shift into a centre-back after attacking limitations shown at West Ham United

Graeme Souness believes West Ham United captain Declan Rice might develop into a centre-back later in his career due to his attacking limitations.

The Hammers midfielder has long been linked with a transfer away from the London Stadium, with talkSPORT host Jim White revealing [7 February] that Rice was valued at £120million plus add-ons after a string of superb seasons.

However, writing in his column for the Daily Mail (Friday 10 February), the former Liverpool legend admitted he thought Rice lacked imagination in the final third and was “short” of a number of key attributes that the likes of Casemiro and Fernandinho possessed.

He said: “Judge him on the defensive aspect alone and you would have to say he’s the best in the country in that position. He’s mobile and athletic. He covers the ground very easily and snuffs out a lot of the danger before it becomes a big problem for West Ham.

“For the centre-halves, he plays in front of, he will be fantastic, because he’s preventing that dangerous, killer ball played into the striker or strikers. In that sense, he’s a 10 out of 10. But ultimately, I think he might be a centre-half.

“It’s when you comes to the other two important parts of being a central midfield player that I do think Rice is a bit short. Factor those in and I would have to say he’s not the best in that position.

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“He doesn’t score enough goals and he’s not terribly creative. He influences games by preventing West Ham conceding, not because of the creative pictures he has in his head as he plays. His numbers – seven goals and ten assists in 188 Premier League games – tells us a lot.”


Souness is never short of outlandish opinions, and this could be one of his more contentious takes on Rice.

Although the 24-year-old did lack this attacking thrust that Souness mentions when he burst onto the scene, this has been one of his major improvements in recent years.

The ease with which Rice can carry the ball up the pitch has become a great strength this season, but the major problem has been that he has played in a side low on confidence and struggling to create many opportunities.

From the base of midfield, Rice often finds himself lacking options in attacking areas, with Lucas Paqeuta, Gianluca Scamacca and Pablo Fornals all struggling for form this term.

He proved his attacking capabilities for England at the World Cup, and alongside Jude Bellingham, actually controlled the quarter-final against reigning champions France, despite coming up on the losing end of the tight knockout match.