Jamie Carragher has likened Declan Rice to Manchester United legend Roy Keane and suggests that calling him a No. 6 is ‘not accurate’.
The West Ham midfielder will be hoping for a big few weeks in his career as he prepares to play a key role for England at the World Cup in Qatar.
The 23-year-old has previously been linked with a move to clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester United, but with a pricetag in excess of £100million, it could be tricky for the midfielder to justify such a transfer fee.
But while Carragher believes that such big money could be reserved for more attack-minded players, it’s essential that fans acknowledge Rice’s quality as an all-round midfield threat.
Carragher wrote in The Telegraph: “The World Cup presents an ideal opportunity for one of England’s most in-demand central midfielders to prove he is worth more than £100 million.
“Step forward Declan Rice. This is your moment.”
Carragher added: “So far in his career, Rice is not perceived as such a footballer. He asserts his class in a different way, positioning himself in front of the defence and – at his best – dictating the tempo of the game.
“Pigeon-holing Rice as a modern ‘No 6’ is not accurate, though. He reminds me of the marauding box-to-box midfielders of the mid-90s such as Roy Keane.
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“Keane could do everything, a perfect combination of technique and physicality, just like Graeme Souness in the 1980s.
“The fact he was not a regular goal scorer from midfield – he managed 39 in 366 Premier League games for Manchester United – did not diminish his influence and importance to Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest sides. Keane would make my all-time Premier League XI.
“Twenty years ago, we did not differentiate so much between the central midfielder roles. As a youngster, when I said ‘I play in midfield’ there was no specification as to whether I was the No. 6 or No. 8. Rice, like Keane and Souness, is so good because he is basically a combination of both profiles.
“To describe that as ‘old-fashioned’ could be interpreted as a criticism when it is intended as the greatest of compliments.
“Rice’s ‘problem’ in convincing a club to pay over £100m for him is that modern coaches, certainly at the elite level, want their central players in those defined roles.
“They are less keen on midfielders who run here, there and everywhere as they do not want to compromise the team shape. And, naturally, they will allocate most of the transfer budget to those who play higher up the pitch.”
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