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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Matt Holland (Exclusive): Declan Rice isn't on Rodri's level yet but would have been perfect for England's Golden Generation alongside Becks, Lampard, Gerrard and Scholes


Photo: Matt Holland Official Instagram


Exclusive Interview by Alessandro Schiavone


Declan Rice may have finished as runner-up behind Phil Foden and above Man City's Rodri in the FWA Footballer of the Year awards.


But for Republic of Ireland legend Matt Holland the Arsenal superstar has ground to make up on the Spaniard with his "passing range" still leaving something to be desired.


Both midfield gladiators are still contesting the Premier League with Rice aiming to win his first-ever trophy while Rodri has already bagged three.


In an exclusive interview with Capital Football, Holland who was recently inducted into Charlton Athletic's Hall of Fame, said: "Rice has had a good season with Arsenal. And he certainly got potential to be the best in the Premier League.


"But Rodri at the moment he's way in front of him.


"It'a fair to say that defensively they are on the same level.


"When you think that Declan Rice previously has been as a centre-half he understands the defensive side of the game really well.


"I was a Luton this season and when you think how close that game was...Luton pushed Arsenal all the way and Declan Rice comes up with the winner!


"So he has done that [improved in front or goal], he has goals in him and he does drive forward.


"But I don't think he necessarily has the same passing range as Rodri.


"I think Declan has potential to play as a no.8, he could be a box-to-box midfield player rather than just be playing as a no.6 if you like.


"I think he's got potential to be that no.8 player.


"He doesn't have the same quality on the ball as a Martin Odegaard but he's got the ability to play as a number 8."


Holland was in his prime when England had their pick of superstars to choose from in midfield with Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Frank Lampard all giving Sven Goran Eriksson selection headaches at tournaments.


Yet he sees Rice as the one who could have been the missing piece in the jigsaw. The man to balance things off and win the ball back. In other words, the steel to go with the silk.


He added: "It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?


"Whilst Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes all could do the defensive side of the game they weren't players that ultimately were no. 6 that wanted to break play up.


"They wanted to be adventurous, they wanted to play the killer pass and score goal.


"They wanted to come on the front foot.


"And if Declan Rice had played he would have given them a bit more licence to do it.


"And you'd imagine there would have been a change of shape.


"In previous eras England played [in a] 4-4-2 and they might have changed the system but Declan Rice would have made a difference to those players."

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