Graeme Souness has expressed concern about Declan Rice moving to Arsenal in a potential £100million deal, suggesting the midfielder is lacking ability in one crucial area and recommending the Gunners to look at an alternative player.

Arsenal have decided on Rice as their top target to take their midfield to the next level. If they manage to capture the West Ham captain, then current midfield option Granit Xhaka will be allowed to leave for Bayer Leverkusen in a £13million deal.

Mikel Arteta’s side opened the bidding for Rice at £80m. However, this was swiftly rejected by West Ham, who want £100m to sell.

As per trusted source David Ornstein, Arsenal have since returned with an improved offer worth £90m, made up of an initial £75m payment and £15m in potential add-ons.

However, this has also been pushed back by West Ham. Arsenal are expected to return to the negotiating table with a third offer which could get close to £100m.

Should the two sides reach an agreement, then Rice will become Arsenal’s most expensive player of all time.

However, during an appearance on talkSPORT, five-time English champion Souness has revealed he is worried the 24-year-old does not have the ‘cuteness’ in the final third needed to be a world-class midfielder.

Souness suggested Arsenal should consider James Maddison instead, a player who excels in the final third as he is more attack-minded than Rice.

Graeme Souness points out Declan Rice problem

“If you’re looking for a top, top midfield player, I don’t believe he has enough cute passing in him to be that,” the pundit said.

“I think he’d be a really good guy, he’d be great to work with, extremely athletic, he senses danger so he’s got that part of a central midfield player’s game, he’s got that.

“He can get himself into positions where the guys he is playing against that want to find the striker or make a cute pass, he knows that and not everyone can get that.

“So he’s got that instinctively, but what he doesn’t have is cute and clever passes when he gets into the last third.

“I think he’s a little bit predictable when he gets on the ball personally.”

When asked if Rice’s ability would improve if he went to Arsenal, Souness added: “He’d make Arsenal better. Would he personally get better? Not sure.”

The former Liverpool man continued: “[James] Maddison has got that final ball. I’m not sure if that’s something he [Rice] can develop.

“I think that’s something you’ve got or you’ve not got, there’s no doubt he would be an asset to whoever takes him, and I bet he’s a great boy to work with.

“This is not a criticism, we’re talking about someone worth £100m.

“But for me, the top midfield players have what he has, and have the cuteness of play further up the field, and they’ll score goals and they create chances.

“His record is 204 games, ten goals, ten assists.”


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