‘Strive to be better’: £80m star Arsenal want told to watch Modric to be ‘world-class’

Graeme Souness has told Arsenal transfer target Declan Rice to watch Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to be world-class. He feels the West Ham United star lacks their attacking instincts.

The 24-year-old left Souness feeling underwhelmed with his work for England against Italy on Thursday. Gareth Southgate started Rice for the Three Lions in Naples during their Euro 2024 qualifier. The Irons captain also broke the deadlock after 13 minutes in their 2-1 win.

Rice stayed alert in the area to turn home Harry Kane’s deflected effort and score his third international goal in 40 caps. His work in England’s engine room often silenced Italy’s best efforts, too. But his debatable yellow card forced him to play cautiously in the second half.

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Before the booking for apparent time wasting, Rice was brilliant in carrying possession out from England’s midfield in Italy. He also produced a superb tackle to deny Nicolo Barella a chance to break. But the Azzurri could put Rice in a difficult spot following the yellow card.

Souness still questions Rice despite his performance for England vs Italy

Yet despite Rice’s impressive show, the Arsenal transfer target left Souness underwhelmed with the West Ham captain’s ability to turn in the half-spaces. Instead, the ex-Scotland star tells the midfielder to watch how Kroos and Modric operate if he wants to be world-class.

“I watched the game against Italy and the same things were on show,” Souness wrote in a column for the Daily Mail. “Any world-class midfield player is on the half turn most of the time and looking to play forwards. How many times did Rice do that in Naples?

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“Not nearly enough for me. Get some videos of Kroos and Modric playing in their midfield roles for Real Madrid. Or go back a few years and watch Paul Scholes.

“As we saw against Italy, he has mastered the defensive side of the job. But I just think he has to strive to be better and never be content with his lot. That’s what great players do.”

Photo by Franco Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Edu is already preparing Arsenal’s opening transfer offer to West Ham

Despite Souness’ scepticisms, Rice is highly sought-after for a transfer with Arsenal and an array of rival teams keen on a move to sign the West Ham talisman in the summer market.

Journalist Dean Jones expects Arsenal will move in June with their opening offer for Rice’s transfer from West Ham. While The Times reports Gunners sporting director Edu is ready to spend £80m on the midfielder. Mikel Arteta’s team are also confident the bid will be enough.

But Arsenal must rival Chelsea for Rice’s transfer from West Ham, per Ben Jacobs. While a further report by Jones claims the Irons value the one-time Blues prospect at £100m. He is also a target for Manchester United, who can blow Arsenal’s salary offer out of the water.

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