Graeme Souness has warned Declan Rice’s natural position may change with the West Ham midfielder linked to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
The Hammers are expected to sell Rice at the end of the season with the 24-year-old unwilling to sign a contract extension at the east London club.
Arsenal have made Rice their top summer transfer target and are confident they can sign him ahead of Chelsea – who are long-term admirers – but United are also keen and may bid for him again after offering £100m last summer.
He is likely to cost a small fortune with West Ham boss David Moyes claiming that Rice would not just break the British transfer record but ‘blow it out of the water’.
Souness, meanwhile, feels that the England international may transition from a midfielder to a defender as he told the Daily Mail: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
‘West Ham will be asking Rice to do what he does best at the London Stadium on Saturday by shielding the defence and minimizing Chelsea’s threat.
‘Can he add those other two dimensions? I don’t really know if you can learn a cuteness of pass or an eye for a goal but time will tell. He is a young, talented footballer and can only get better.’
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