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Gary Neville explains why West Ham favourite reminds him of Tottenham’s Eric Dier

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Tottenham Hotspur

Gary Neville explains why West Ham favourite reminds him of Tottenham’s Eric Dier

Gary Neville has told Sky Sports on Monday night – as per Football Daily – that he is unsure if West Ham United favourite Declan Rice has a future in central midfield, comparing the Hammers star to Tottenham Hotspur man Eric Dier.

Rice, 21, has a whopping 113 Premier League appearances under his belt despite his tender age – and has captained West Ham in 12 of his side’s 14 league games with Mark Noble coming in and out of the side. He is one of England’s brightest prospects.

 

The Chelsea academy product joined West Ham as a teenager and has since gone on to shine, either in midfield or at centre-back. Similarly, England defender Dier is excelling at centre-back at the moment – after playing in midfield for Spurs.

Neville praised Rice for his amount of games and his performances so far, but questioned whether Rice has the ability to play in midfield – claiming he is like £72,000-a-week (Spotrac) Dier in that he looks like a central defender playing in midfield.

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“He has had a brilliant start to his career and to have 112 Premier League games under his belt at 21 is fantastic,” Neville said. “It’s a massive case for being at a club that plays you. Some players at Chelsea, City – they haven’t had the games by 21.

“He can pass, he has built up confidence. When I watch him, I always get the feeling – like Eric Dier at Spurs – that it is like a centre-back playing in midfield. Are they going to become a top midfielder? He’s brilliant, but I wonder if he’s a top midfielder.”

TBR’s view – Can Rice be a long-term midfielder?

Dier broke through at Sporting Lisbon and then Tottenham as a defender, initially starting as a flying right-back and then impressing at centre-back – before moving into midfield. He starred for England at Euro 2016 as a midfielder.

Indeed, Mauricio Pochettino’s best spell at Spurs came with Dier in midfield. But he has lost his initial pace and centre-back is now his best position. Similarly, Rice has the pace and agility to play in midfield right now, as well as the technical ability.

But when he loses that yard of speed as he gets older, could that see Rice return to centre-back? Certainly, staying at West Ham could see him remain in midfield – while a move to Chelsea might see him drop back into defence.

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