By Peter Lynch

23rd Mar, 2023 | 10:21am

West Ham United captain Declan Rice brushes off ‘harsh’ criticism from pundit, midfielder can take it ‘on the chin’

West Ham captain Declan Rice has brushed off the “harsh” criticism he has received from Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, but noted that it is sometimes worth listening to legendary figures like the former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder.

Souness believes the Hammers captain is proficient in winning the ball back, but falls short when it comes to passing and scoring, according to the Express.

Rice has, however, hit back, claiming the pundit is not following West Ham’s matches closely enough to be able to offer such criticism.

“With me being captain my performances are scrutinised more which I can take on the chin,” said Rice, as quoted by the Express. “There have been some games recently where I probably haven’t been at my best but there have been other games where I have been at my best.

“I think it’s harsh because Souness doesn’t watch West Ham every week. I think to say I’m only good at one of three is harsh but Souness was a top midfielder and when someone like him speaks you have to sometimes listen and take on board where you can improve if that’s true.”

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It is becoming increasingly evident that Rice will leave the East London outfit at the end of the current campaign, with West Ham having reportedly already identified a few potential replacements for their star midfielder.

But amid all the distraction and talk of his future, the captain has been enjoying another fine individual season, both in the Premier League and in the Europa Conference League.

And there shouldn’t be any complaints about his ability to win the ball or indeed his passing abilities, with the midfielder one of the best in the league when it comes to those categories.

And even criticism surrounding his scoring abilities is unfounded, with Rice netting twice this season despite playing in defensive midfield. He has proven more than capable when handed a rare opportunity to find the net.

Both Arsenal and Manchester United have been linked with Rice in recent transfer windows, with the 24-year-old certain to improve the midfield area at either club.