Former Manchester United icon Gary Neville has drawn a parallel between Arsenal’s midfielder Declan Rice and the renowned Michael Essien. Neville asserts that Rice shares similarities with Essien, who played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s triumphant era in the mid-2000s. Drawing the comparison, Neville highlights Rice’s blend of strength, character, and physical presence in the midfield, reminiscent of Essien’s contributions. However, Neville acknowledges that the likes of Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira belong to a league of their own.
"I see him [Rice] as more of an Essien, I wouldn't put him personally in the category of Keane and Vieira" ❌
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 21, 2023
In a recent analysis on Sky Sports, Gary Neville shared his perspective on Arsenal’s midfield dynamics. According to him, the qualities Declan Rice brings to the team encompass power, personality, and physical prowess—a reminiscent of Michael Essien’s impact at Chelsea. Neville believes that Rice aligns more with Essien’s style, where the latter’s strength and dominance were significant assets during his time at Chelsea.
Neville clarifies that he holds Essien in high regard, admiring his exceptional skills and contributions. He emphasizes that Essien played a crucial role as a powerful force in the Chelsea lineup for several years. However, Neville underscores that he doesn’t place Rice in the league of players like Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.
This assessment comes as Rice completed his move from West Ham United to Arsenal for a British record transfer fee of £105 million during the summer transfer window. It’s notable that this record has since been surpassed by Moises Caicedo’s transfer to Chelsea.
First minutes for The Arsenal. Thank you DC. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ruEGpYo3AB
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) July 20, 2023
In this season’s Premier League matches, the 24-year-old player has consistently appeared in Arsenal’s lineup, featuring against Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace. While he hasn’t found the net yet, the ex-West Ham skipper earned the title of man of the match in Arsenal’s recent victory against Crystal Palace on Monday.
Rice’s presence at the Emirates has prompted a tactical adjustment, with Thomas Partey taking up the right-back position to make room for the talented England international.