West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has named a Tottenham flop as his toughest ever Premier League opponent.
The 23-year-old midfielder has established himself as one of English football’s leading players following his five seasons playing in the top-flight, which has seen him make 167 league appearances.
When asked by Tubes and Ange’s Golf Life YouTube show who his most difficult opponent was, the England midfielder named Tanguy Ndombele. The French international arrived at Tottenham in 2019 for £53.8 million (BBC Sport) from Lyon and came with a reputation as one of Europe’s most promising young players.
However, following 91 unspecatacular Spurs appearances, the 25-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements by manager Antonio Conte, and was sent back on-loan to Lyon in January. Rice, though, was full of praise for his fellow midfielder, as HITC Sport quoted him as saying:
“This one will surprise you. He gets slammed and hammered a little bit. It’s going to take you back, but Ndombele, who was Spurs. The perception of him, it shouldn’t be what it is because I tell you now, he is one of the toughest I have played against.
“He is top. Just a street footballer on the pitch. He takes the ball anywhere, little flicks and tricks. Like he doesn’t care. He does everything so confidently. With players like that, you just have to let them play. Give them the freedom to go out and do whatever they want. When we played against Lyon in the Europa League, he was incredible. He’s a top player.”
Declan Rice heaps praise on fellow Premier League stars
Boyhood Hammer Rice has become the club’s new captain following the retirement of Mark Noble, despite being constantly linked with a move away from the club.
During the interview, Rice was also full of praise for several legendary midfielders who have also graced the Premier League. The West Ham talisman stated (as per The Liverpool Echo):
“There’s so many (good midfielders) I can’t even describe or pick out one. De Bruyne was just special, the way he thinks about the game, the position he picks up for a holding midfielder is horrible he just makes you think. Same with David Silva when he was in the Prem (sic), he was the exact same, couldn’t get near, technically one and two touch was just one step ahead of everyone.
“(Eden) Hazard when he was in the Premier League with Chelsea, I was only just starting then but he was so quick, so agile. Even when I played against Thiago at Liverpool, last season, he’s just so silky. He plays the game at his own pace, he was proper.”