Graeme Souness has already sent Arsenal major Declan Rice warning as Man Utd star favoured


Liverpool icon Graeme Souness has already sent a warning to Arsenal over their new record signing Declan Rice. The Gunners announced the £105million deal on Saturday as the former West Ham captain gave a speech to his new team-mates in a meeting called by boss Mikel Arteta, having finally closed negotiations with the Hammers.

Souness has told Arsenal that Rice does not compare to his Manchester United counterpart, however, as although the former Sky Sports pundit believes that the defensive side to his game is second to none - going forward the 24-year-old needs to improve in order to justify his price tag.

"This [midfield] role is a vital part of any team because in an ideal world, it's multi-dimensional," the Scot wrote in his Daily Mail column in February. "You are creative, you chip in with goals and you've got a defensive head at all times. Even when you're on the front foot, you are thinking: 'We are vulnerable if we lose possession.' If you've got all three of those attributes, you're worth your weight in gold. For me, Rice has just one of them.

“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.

“For the centre-halves he plays in front of, he will be fantastic, because he’s preventing that dangerous, killer-ball played into the striker or strikers. In that sense, he’s a 10 out of 10. But ultimately, I think he might be a centre-half. 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.”

Souness has claimed that Rice pales in comparison to Casemiro at United and Roy Keane and Fernandinho before him, though both Rice and Casemiro had the same Premier League goal tally last season with four strikes.

“Rice brings this defensive aspect though for me, Casemiro at Manchester United is currently the best central midfielder around because he defends, chips in with goals and has the smart pass,” Souness added. “Roy Keane and Manchester City’s Fernandinho were the best I’ve seen in the Premier League of that type. I’m now seeing Casemiro operating at this level.”

Rice has already responded to Souness while on England duty, insisting that as the former Liverpool midfielder was “harsh” but was willing to take his advice on board - an attitude that the Arsenal faithful will be enthused about.

“I think it’s harsh because Souness doesn’t watch West Ham every week,” said Rice. “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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