Jamie Carragher has hit out at lazy stereotyping of Declan Rice’s game as he continues to shine for West Ham.
The England international has become a star performer for the Hammers in recent times and his superb form has seen him linked with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, among others.
Rice looks like he’d be an asset in defensive midfield for most top clubs, while he has also been eyed by Chelsea as a possible option at centre-back.
Carragher, however, feels this overlooks one key aspect of Rice’s game – the quality of his passing and attacking play in the middle of the park.
“I’m a big fan, he was another one that burst onto the scene at a young age,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“He then got a little bit of criticism at times – I thought unjustly really – because you know he’s a regular for England at that age (22), the actual football he’s played – I read something that in the last three seasons I think it’s only Conor Coady that has played more than him.
“We highlighted he’s played every minute this season, we also highlighted what the manager’s said about him before the game (that he is worth more than £100million).
“He is a fantastic player, he really is, I’m a huge fan of his and you can see he thinks about his game. You hear him talk about Yaya Toure, Patrick Vieira bursting forward – he’s not thinking of himself as just a sitting midfield player.
“I think he almost got pigeon-holed with that and he was ‘always going to end up a centre-back’. And I’m like ‘I’m not quite so sure I think he’s a really good midfield player’.
“I think his passing is really good, I like that, he drives forward, very rarely gets beaten one vs one… got that real physical strength as well in his upper body.
“I think he’s a top player Declan Rice. But when you’re talking about (criticism) getting more goals and assists, when you’ve got a guy next to you (Soucek) who has already got eight goals, it’s very difficult to be that man, because you’ve got to sit there.
“If Soucek always gets in the box when the balls are coming in from out wide as West Ham do, Declan Rice has to hold. So it’s very difficult to have two midfield players, who play in a two, to both get goals. It’s impossible.”