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Declan Rice would strengthen any Premier League XI | Graham Gartland

West Ham's Declan Rice would strengthen any Premier League squad he joined, and would be the perfect fit for Manchester City, according to Graham Gartland.

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

22:02 1 May 2022



West Ham's Declan Rice would strengthen any Premier League squad he joined, and would be the perfect fit for Manchester City, according to former Dundee United assistant coach Graham Gartland.

While Arsenal beat West Ham 2-1 on Sunday, it was the hosts that were the ones on the ascendancy for most of the match. As is often the case for the Hammers, most of their best attacking play went through Declan Rice as well.

The midfielder has been the best player for the Irons for a number of seasons, and has a lot of Premier League clubs knocking on the door for when his contract expires, or even before, the end of summer 2025.

However, Gartland believes that he would be the perfect fit for any Premier League club that might have their eyes on some silverware in the near future.

Speaking to Nathan Murphy after the pair were on commentary duty on Sunday, Gartland detailed the skills and attributes in favour of the 23-year-old.

"I think he has power," Gartland said. "I think his physical ability is there for all to see. He has really matured. He has a presence about him now.

"He is probably 6'2'' or 6'3'', but he looks it! He is powerful, but his awareness has improved a lot and his range of passes has improved a lot.

"He punches passes through now, 20-yard passes."

Rice could have been a first team Republic of Ireland stalwart by now if he was selected for competitive matches earlier on in his career.

As it turned out, he was only ever capped at friendly level, and eventually declared for England, much to the chagrin of many Irish supporters who have still not let it go.

"What a player he would have been for Ireland, and what a player he has proven to be for England," Gartland said. "West Ham would do well to hold onto him.

"He is by far better than the two central midfielders that Arsenal have!"

Rice would strengthen any team, even Manchester City

For Gartland, the form that Rice is in and the development he has made over the past two years has meant that he would make the perfect addition to any of the top Premier League sides, even Manchester City's.

"Rodri does his role for Manchester City," Gartland said. "I know City were interested in Rice a couple of years ago. Rice could do that role, especially with Fernandinho moving on in the summer.

"It is a tough one. You would like to see him in that team with all that firepower and that ability around him. When he is giving it to [Kevin] de Bruyne, [Raheem] Stirling, or even [Jack] Grealish, another one that we missed out on.

"You know that they are going to create at the top of the pitch, so it is the pass before the assist."

At West Ham, all of the play goes through Rice. The first movement many of the Irons' defenders make is to find the midfielder and give it straight to him, where he creates the play.

However, if he were to join Pep Guardiola's side, it would be Rice that needs to pass the ball immediately to the playmakers De Bruyne and Foden.

Gartland, though, does not think that this would be a issue.

"You can tell that he is a team player and he'd be willing to do that," Gartland said. "You call it 'carrying the water' for them. I think he is able to do that, but you know then he has the quality to step in and play as well.

"There is not a team in the Premier League that he doesn't strengthen their squad. You would go as far as saying he is strengthening their first XI."

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Read more about

Declan Rice Graham Gartland Jack Grealish Kevin De Bruyne Liverpool Manchester City Nathan Murphy Phil Foden Premier League West Ham

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