Former Republic of Ireland star James McClean believes that Declan Rice is not world class and his abilities 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 allegiances to the Three Lions in 2019. 

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

And he reckons the 25-year-old can in no way be considered world class based on his current output. 

‘I think Declan Rice is overrated.’ The Wrexham utility man said on RTE Sport. ‘Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a very good footballer, but the way the English media wax lyrical about him is completely over the top.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘For me, he’s not world class. To me world class is someone who gets in every side in the world. I don’t think he does that. I don’t think he gets in the Man City side ahead of Rodri. To me Toni Kroos is world class, He dictates the game, Rodri dictates the game, I don’t think Declan Rice does that.

‘Someone who gets it on the half turn, plays passes forward. He’s very good at what he does.’

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

He took his startling domestic form for the Gunners, following a £105million transfer from West Ham, into England’s opener and was arguably the side’s best performer – behind Jude Bellingham.

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

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

Under FIFA regulations, a player is only committed to a nation once they have represented them in a competitive fixture.

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

Rice turned out for Ireland in three internal friendlies before switching allegiances to England in 2019

Rice turned out for Ireland in three internal friendlies before switching allegiances to England in 2019

Rice turned out for Ireland in three internal friendlies before switching allegiances to England in 2019

When pulled up on the differences in play style between Rice, Kroos and Rodri, McClean doubled down and insisted his short-time team-mate 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 him this much hype and reputation, surely he should be able to do what they do.

‘He sees danger and he puts out fires, but for the hype that surrounds him I don’t think it’s justified.’

Rice has not only been a crucial component of the England’s squads that reached the final of the last Euros 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 deputy Kyle Walker, he and Jude Bellingham form an unofficial leadership core in the absence of Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling – who were all left out of the Euro 2024 squad. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rice and his England team-mates will be looking to clinch qualification to the knockout stages with a win over the Danes on Thursday evening. 

The side currently sit top of Group C after a 1-0 win over Serbia in their opener. 

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