"I see him more as an Essien" – Gary Neville compares Arsenal midfielder to Chelsea icon

Gary Neville has compared Declan Rice to former Chelsea and Real Madrid star Michael Essien.
Gary Neville has compared Declan Rice to former Chelsea and Real Madrid star Michael Essien.

Manchester United great Gary Neville has likened Arsenal summer signing Declan Rice to former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien.

Rice, 24, joined the Gunners in a potential £105 million transfer to end his decade-long association with West Ham United earlier in June this year. He has started his new chapter on a good note, making three appearances and lifting the Community Shield so far this season.

During a recent discussion on Sky Sports, Neville claimed that the former Chelsea youth star is more similar to Essien than the likes of Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane. He elaborated:

"What I think he brings to Arsenal's midfield is power, personality and physicality. Essien brought that to Chelsea. I think that would, for me, be a better example of what I see him as. [Claude] Makelele was the defender, [Frank] Lampard was the goals and then Essien."

Explaining how the Arsenal midfielder is alike to Essien, Neville added:

"This is not a criticism by the way, Essien was a brilliant player. I loved him at Chelsea. I thought he was outstanding, but he was the power, he was a force for three or four years. I see him more as an Essien. I wouldn't put him personally in the category of Keane and Vieira."

Rice, whose current deal runs till 2028, is expected to elevate Mikel Arteta's outfit to a new level this season. He has been identified as a crucial presence in the heart of midfield owing to his endurace, technical ability and leadership acumen.

Before joining Arsenal, the 43-cap England international helped West Ham lift their first trophy in 43 years. He guided them to UEFA Europa Conference League glory last season, making 50 overall appearances.

Chelsea agree terms with Arsenal attacker

According to Football Transfers, Chelsea have agreed personal terms with Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun ahead of holding talks about the potential transfer fee. They are, however, unwilling to meet the forward's £50 million price tag and are ready to dish out £30 million instead.

Balogun, 22, has emerged as a potential summer sale at the Emirates Stadium as he is aiming to secure regular minutes next season. He is said to be keen to build on his stellar campaign spent out on loan at Stade de Reims last time around at a brand new club this summer.

Last season, the two-cap USA international turned heads with his fine outings for Reims. He netted 22 goals and laid out three assists in 39 appearances across all competitions for the Will Still-coached outfit.

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Edited by Diptanil
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