England’s World Cup bid got off to an explosive start this week, with potential Liverpool target Jude Bellingham opening the scoring in a 6-2 victory over Iran. Alongside Bellingham in the heart of the English midfield was West Ham’s Declan Rice, who has cemented his place as one of the key men in Gareth Southgate’s team.
Rice was linked with a potential summer move to Merseyside this week by Football Insider’s Wayne Veysey, whose sources suggest the 23-year-old midfielder will leave east London for ‘a Champions League giant’ at the end of the season.
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight Show, we asked goal.com’s Neil Jones for his opinion on the Rice rumours.
“He’s an interesting one, Rice. You watch some of the games he played in the Europa League especially last season, at the Euros for England, you watch him, you see his interviews and you see his personality and you think, I’d feel quite comfortable having someone like that my club for 5-10 years as a figurehead, probably a captain. I’ve come around on him definitely as a player.
I think it you would need to lose Fabinho if he came. He’s going to be anywhere upwards of £70 million. I think his contract’s not great. There will be other clubs involved as well, I think Chelsea have always been very heavily linked. I know people who couldn’t believe Manchester United didn’t sign him instead of someone like Casemiro. I think that a lot of people were surprised City weren’t in there when they bought Kalvin Phillips. I don’t think he transforms Liverpool unless you say he’s going to replace Fabinho in the team.”
As a London lad, Rice has always seemed likelier to move to a side like Chelsea. Alternatively, he could become the new lynchpin of the Manchester United midfield. With so much up in the air at Anfield at the moment, it is hard to speculate as to whether or not a spending model similar to the present regime will carry on. The club are likely to lose three of their midfield options at the end of the season, with Henderson and Thiago approaching their mid-30s. Whoever the club’s owners turn out to be, come July a refresh is certainly due. Rice has been a top Premier League performer for several years and looks to be combining well with Jude Bellingham – a continuation of that partnership at club level would certainly please many fans. Fabinho has proven himself to be one of the best in the world in his position – is his drop in form over the last nine months or so temporary, or is it a sign of a more permanent decline? If it is the latter, then perhaps the Brazilian could be made to make way for Declan Rice.