By Jonty Banks

29th Nov, 2022 | 1:10pm

Graeme Souness outlines one key area Declan Rice can improve for West Ham United and England

Graeme Souness believes there is a “hell of a lot to like” about West Ham captain Declan Rice, but he is not scoring enough goals at either club or international level.

The 23-year-old Hammers star has been a reliable figure for the Three Lions under the management of Gareth Southgate and starting every minute of England’s World Cup campaign so far.

The midfielder is set to make his 37th cap against Wales on Tuesday (29 November) to go alongside his 182 goals for West Ham, in which he has scored seven goals.

And it is this lack of potency in front of goal which Souness believes is the midfielder’s biggest failing, hinting that he is an otherwise complete midfielder.

Speaking via Mail Sport, Souness said: “There is a hell of a lot to like about him, exceptionally energetic, covers the ground for fun, a great defensive head, senses danger, he has evolved to be a main man in this England team.

“Downside is he has played 182 games in Premier League and seven goals, a goal every 26 games, that isn’t enough whether you call yourself a holding midfield player or defensive midfield player. 

“Given the surfaces in the Premier League, when I played the ball bobbled all over the place, very different surface to now, he should get more goals coming onto things. That’s an obvious criticism.”

Doesn’t matter

Although Rice’s goalscoring stats are rather damning, he brings so much to a team that his lack of potency in front of goal shouldn’t come as too much of an issue.

The fact he has played every minute of England’s World Cup campaign and has played week in week out – most midweek matches as well – for West Ham highlights his other brilliant qualities.

Take N’Golo Kante, for example. He has played 185 games for Chelsea and only scored 11 goals. Luca Modric only has 25 goals in 307 Real Madrid appearances.

The point is that Rice has an abundance of qualities which can improve almost any side in Europe, and his lack of goals comes as a result of the loyal defensive duties he carries out on a weekly basis.

Rice is still a young player and has plenty of wiggle room to improve, so yes, he can listen to Souness’s comments, but he shouldn’t let them define him.