Barnes believes Rice is a world-class talent and a valuable acquisition for Arsenal

    According to John Barnes, Declan Rice is one of the best players in the world in his position and a great signing for Arsenal.

    England midfielder Rice completed his move from West Ham to Arsenal last week with a transfer that could be worth as much as £105m.

    Rice made 204 Premier League appearances for West Ham and lost, leading the club to success in the European Conference League.

    Opta data showed he had more steals (63) than any other Premier League player last season.

    Former England international Barnes has no doubts about Rice’s ability to make an impact at Arsenal as they battle for Premier League and Champions League glory under Mikel Arteta.

    Rice made his first appearance for Arsenal on Wednesday when his new team kicked off their US tour by completely beating Wayne Rooney’s MLS All-Stars 5-0 in Washington DC.

    “Declan Rice, as a defensive midfielder, I consider one of the best in the country, if not in the world, so this is a great signing for Arsenal,” Barnes told Stats Perform.

    “This is a great signing. He is very, very good. I would love him at Liverpool but obviously he wanted to go to Arsenal. He is a London boy.

    Arsenal got what they needed. They have Thomas Partey in that position and Arsenal have always been a good football team but they lacked the strength and defense for four backs and then he will give them that.

    “It’s as obvious as signing Kai Havertz, a player with good experience, so they made some very good signings.”

    Rice’s England team-mate Jude Bellingham was also on the way, having switched from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid.

    Bellingham made 88 shots in the Bundesliga last season, more than any central midfielder in Europe’s big five leagues in 2022/23.

    Barnes also believes a major transfer will be successful if the 20-year-old doesn’t try to do too much to meet any unrealistic individual expectations.

    “He was fantastic and I think he will do well,” Barnes said of Bellingham.

    “However, he is not going to become a superstar. Of course they had it with Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona had Lionel Messi, but Real Madrid don’t have that (in the current team) – look at Eden Hazard (struggling).

    “Bellingham is a hardworking midfield player who is not going to be Messi or Ronaldo because that is not the player he is.

    “If you look at what they have in terms of (Eduardo) Camavinga and (Aurélien) Chuameni, they have a lot of good young players who are hardworking midfielders and Bellingham will be one of them.

    “Bellingham is not going to be Messi or Ronaldo – he is going to help in a situation where the age of the team has come down. He is a very, very good midfielder who will help Real Madrid.

    “Until he admits that he is not going to be the best player in the world in terms of what the public expects, like scoring 30 goals in a season and beating people.

    “He does his job, which he does very well, and he will be very successful.”

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