Former Chelsea and Aston Villa midfielder Andy Townsend claims that Declan Rice will only become a truly world-class player if he opts to leave West Ham.
The ex-Republic of Ireland international was asked whether Rice has the potential to match the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but he feels that can only happen if he plays at a team competing for titles:
“When you say, ‘Can he reach the levels that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard reached?’ The truth of the matter is, he is only going to reach those levels if he moves. He can only do that if he is playing for a City, or Liverpool, or one of the clubs that are, at the moment, right in the thick of things to win everything. That is the only way he is ever going to be compared to guys like that.”
While there is some truth to what Townsend is saying, in the sense that regularly competing for the Premier League title and the Champions League would improve his game, Rice is already showing that ability at the Hammers.
The 23-year-old is playing against the best players in the world, week-in-week-out, whilst he has shown his capabilities on the international stage as well, helping England to the European Championship final last summer.
The fact that the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City are all interested in signing him is a testament to the heights he has already reached as a footballer.