By Jonty Banks

25th Mar, 2023 | 2:10pm

Troy Deeney wades in on Graeme Souness criticism of West Ham United captain Declan Rice

Troy Deeney believes Graeme Souness’ criticism of Declan Rice is “harsh” and the West Ham United captain scores just as many goals as Europe’s elite midfielders.

Souness has thrown multiple jabs at the 24-year-old’s attacking game this season, and even after Rice scored in England’s 2-1 win against Italy on Thursday (23 March), criticised his lack of ambition in the final third. [Daily Mail, 24 March]

Writing in his column of The Sun, Deeney admitted that he thought Rice was “world class” and not getting the credit for the high number of games he gets through per season.

“I thought Graeme Souness’ criticism of Declan Rice was quite harsh,” he said. “Graeme’s opinion is that to be a world-class midfielder, you need to create and score more goals. He feels Declan does not do that.

“But you can rattle off loads of names who don’t score loads —  N’Golo Kante, Casemiro, Rodri, Thomas Partey and Toni Kroos to name a few.

“For me, Declan is world class. This kid plays so many games a year and is still a young man getting used to that.”

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Great point

Deeney is spot on in his assessment of Rice’s game and the criticism thrown at the midfielder.

So far this Premier League season, the Hammers captain has scored the same number of goals as Manchester United star Casemiro, and Manchester City’s Rodri, who is largely considered to be the best progressive central defensive midfielder in the league.

How Souness is expecting Rice to add more goals to his game in a West Ham side who have struggled in front of goal and are lurking in the relegation zone is ridiculous.

The England international can’t do everything.

On a weekly basis, Rice is always doing the dirty work for Moyes’ men, and although it might go unnoticed to some people – including Souness – this is his primary role.

Throw into the mix that Rice has often played in a midfield two with the far more attacking Lucas Paqueta, and the reasoning behind his lack of goals could be unearthed.

It’s not rocket science that Rice is up there amongst Europe’s elite midfielders, but Souness, for some reason, continues slamming the West Ham United ace’s game.