Garth Crooks has listed West Ham pair Declan Rice and Michail Antonio in his “team of the year” for 2021.
The BBC pundit reserved special praise for Rice, who has come on leaps and bounds over the past twelve months, claiming he could now be the first name on the teamsheet for his country:
“The player always delivers and is one of the reasons the Hammers have found themselves playing European football this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was also the first selection on Gareth Southgate’s teamsheet.”
On Antonio, Crooks admitted that the 31-year-old’s form had dipped but he believes the forward has been integral to the success that the Hammers have had recently:
“West Ham look a different team with him in the side and to have written yourself into the club’s record books alongside the likes of Di Canio is to his enormous credit.”
Crooks also named five Manchester City players in his eleven, with places being handed to Ederson, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva.
Chelsea duo Reece James and Antonio Rudiger were given a mention, along with Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Reds’ defender’s teammate Mo Salah was, however, surprisingly omitted by Crooks, along with the likes of Thiago Silva, Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes and Son Heung-Min.