Home Sports James McClean rips into his ‘very OVERRATED’ former team-mate Declan Rice and insists the England midfielder is NOT world class… but is he just bitter at how he ‘transferred’ to England?

James McClean rips into his ‘very OVERRATED’ former team-mate Declan Rice and insists the England midfielder is NOT world class… but is he just bitter at how he ‘transferred’ to England?

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James McClean played alongside Declan Rice in three of his 104 games for the Republic of Ireland.

Former Republic of Ireland star James McClean believes Declan Rice is not world class and his skills have been “overrated” by the English media.

McClean played alongside the Arsenal midfielder in three of his 104 appearances for the national team before Rice controversially switched allegiance to the Three Lions in 2019.

Ahead of Gareth Southgate’s side’s second Euro 2024 match against Denmark on Thursday, the 35-year-old shared his view that Rice is not on the same level as a couple of world football’s leading defensive midfielders.

And he considers that the 25-year-old player can in no way be considered world class based on his current performance.

“I think Declan Rice is overrated.” The Wrexham manager said on RTE Sport. “Don’t get me wrong, I think he is a very good footballer, but the way the English media talk about him is completely exaggerated.

James McClean played alongside Declan Rice in three of his 104 games for the Republic of Ireland.

The 35-year-old believes the England and Arsenal star is overrated and not on the same level as two of the best defensive midfielders in world football.

The 35-year-old believes the England and Arsenal star is overrated and not on the same level as two of the best defensive midfielders in world football.

‘For me, he is not world class. For me, world class is someone who reaches all sides of the world. I don’t think he does that. I don’t think he will arrive at Manchester City ahead of Rodri. For me Toni Kroos is world class, he dictates the game, Rodri dictates the game, I don’t think Declan Rice does that.

‘Whoever gets it in the half turn, plays and passes forward. ‘He’s very good at what he does.’

Rice has enjoyed a couple of sensational seasons in the Premier League, which has made him an integral part of Southgate’s system for the national team.

He carried his stunning domestic form for the Gunners, following a £105m transfer from West Ham, into England’s first game and was arguably the team’s best player behind Jude Bellingham.

His performance came more than five years after he sensationally decided to turn his back on the Ireland national team, despite playing three international friendlies for the team.

The then 20-year-old midfielder said he had called Ireland coach Mick McCarthy and England coach Gareth Southgate to inform them of his decision and will make a formal request to FIFA to transfer his international registration.

Under FIFA regulations, a player is only committed to a nation once he has represented it in a competitive match.

The London-born star, who has Irish family heritage, had previously represented Ireland at U16, U17, U19 and U21 levels before making his senior debut under then-coach Martin O’Neill in March 2018.

Rice featured for Ireland in three domestic friendlies before switching allegiance to England in 2019.

Rice featured for Ireland in three domestic friendlies before switching allegiance to England in 2019.

When asked about the differences in playing style between Rice, Kroos and Rodri, McClean doubled down and insisted his short-lived teammate should be able to match the pair as he plays in the same position.

‘They play the same role, so why can’t they do the same things?’ He added. “If you’re going to give it that much publicity and reputation, surely it should be able to do what they do.”

“He sees the danger and puts out fires, but because of the commotion around him I don’t think it’s justified.”

Rice has not only been a crucial component of the England squads that reached the final of the last European Championship and the quarter-finals of the World Cup, but his influence extends to occupying one of the four leadership positions in the squad.

Along with captain Harry Kane and substitute Kyle Walker, he and Jude Bellingham form an unofficial leadership core in the absence of Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling, who were left out of the Euro 2024 squad.

Roy Keane (right) was Martin O'Neil's (left) assistant during Rice's three-match Ireland career.

Roy Keane (right) was Martin O’Neil’s (left) assistant during Rice’s three-match Ireland career.

The 25-year-old has become an integral part of Gareth Southgate's team in recent years.

The 25-year-old has become an integral part of Gareth Southgate’s team in recent years.

McClean’s assessment was echoed by another former Irish star, this time Kevin Doyle, who harshly compared him to Manchester United and Ireland legend Roy Keane.

‘A poor man’s Roy Keane. Similar playing style without his intensity and aggression. The former Reading striker said.

Rice and his England teammates will look to secure qualification for the last 16 with a win over the Danes on Thursday night.

The team is currently in first place in Group C after a 1-0 victory over Serbia in their first match.

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