Declan Rice

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp has claimed that he doesn’t believe that Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek work as a midfield partnership for West Ham.

West Ham suffered a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday and sit 13th in the Premier League table.

Rice and Soucek have been regulars at the heart of West Ham’s midfield over recent seasons, but the Hammers have had an underwhelming start to the campaign – losing seven out of their opening 13 matches.

After their defeat at Old Trafford, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said Rice and Soucek are too ‘similar’ and is not sure they work as a partnership.

He said: ‘I look at that West Ham midfield and I am not convinced by Soucek and Rice as a partnership.

‘A long-standing partnership has its positives but I am talking about certain games where you need creativity.

‘Now of course Soucek will offer you, he’s great in the air, set pieces for and against. He’s important. But when I’m looking at someone, I look at Declan and he wants to pop a little pass around the corner he’s not quite there, because it’s not Soucek’s game.

‘It isn’t Soucek’s game. You’ve got (Pablo) Fornals, (Saidi) Benrahma can play in there, (Flynn) Downes, (Lucas) Paqueta is injured, but I just feel with those two, it doesn’t feel there is any flow when you have two players who are so similar in there.’

Rice and Soucek have regularly played alongside each other since the Czech Republic international joined on an initial loan deal in January 2020 – which turned into a permanent deal that summer.

Gary Neville agreed with Redknapp, saying Soucek reminds him of how Moyes used to utilise Marouane Fellaini. And the pundit said the game has moved on since those days, highlighting that the best holding midfielders now have to be able to play on the ball.

He said: ‘Rodri at City, Fabinho, Casemiro they can play. A holding player isn’t now a negative thing.

‘It is someone who intercepts, starts attacks, can play on the half-turn and play passes to more creative players. Soucek isn’t the best at that.’

Redknapp added: ‘Soucek can get into the box and arrive on things but in terms of little clever passes it isn’t his game.’

Soucek’s form has been questioned this season, with manager David Moyes addressing the issue after their defeat to Brentford earlier this month.

When asked if Rice making more forward runs is affecting Soucek, he said: ‘Yeah, it could be a little bit to do with that. Tomas has not quite got on the end of things as well and things have not fallen for him. He scored last week but it was chalked out at Leeds.

‘I think he is fighting for a wee bit of his best form. Is it to do with Declan getting forward a but more? Well, I am hoping the two of them, can get goals and gives us two goalscoring midfield players but I think Tomas has struggled a wee bit, so I don’t disagree with your question.’

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