Gareth Southgate and Declan Rice

‘People don’t want to hear it’ – England boss Gareth Southgate admits Declan Rice role is a problem area ahead of Euro 2024

England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted he’s struggling to decide on a midfield partner for Delcan Rice ahead of Euro 2024. The Arsenal superstar was named in the Three Lions’ provisional 33-man squad for this summer’s European Championships in Germany.

Declan Rice, 25, is extremely likely to be a starter once the tournament kicks off as he’s been a mainstay in Gareth Southgate’s side since debuting in March 2019. He’s earned 50 caps, scoring three goals, and has represented his nation at Euro 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

However, Southgate is scratching his head regarding finding the right partner for Rice and feels many have looked past that selection headache. He told reporters (via GOAL):

“Yes, no question. I’ve talked a lot about numbers and players and people don’t want to hear it because we’ve got so much talent in certain areas of the pitch. But the impact of those numbers is clear in certain positions. We’ll just have to do that differently. We don’t have another Rice-type profile of player. In the last few months, I’ve been thinking: ‘Declan with who?’ And: ‘Who if without Declan?’ When everyone is saying we have a procession to Berlin, they’re the things I have to worry about.”

Declan Rice enjoyed a stellar debut season at Arsenal after joining from West Ham United for a club record £105 million. He registered seven goals and 10 assists in 51 games across competitions. He played alongside the likes of Jorginho and Thomas Partey throughout the Gunners’ campaign.

Southgate’s 33-man squad includes six midfielders who could accompany Rice in the middle of the park. These are Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones, Manchester United’s Kobbie Mainoo, Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham and Crystal Palace’s Adam Wharton.

The Three Lions boss opted to play Mainoo in March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium and the 19-year-old caught the eye with his composure on the ball. Many feel he’s the right candidate to sit alongside Rice in midfield at Euro 2024.

However, Bellingham could be an option because Manchester City’s in-form attacker Phil Foden may take his number 10 spot. The Madrid star has shone this season in an attacking role but could drop further back not only for his country but his club too. Toni Kroos has announced his retirement and Carlo Ancelotti will need to replace him.

Declan Rice urges England to win Euro 2024 to end 58-year trophy drought

England last won a major trophy in 1966 when they won the FIFA World Cup on home soil and football has yet to ‘come home’ since then. The Three Lions came close to winning the European Championships in 2021 but suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Italy on penalties in the final at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate’s men are among the favorites to reign supreme in Germany due to the squad at his disposal. Declan Rice, Phil Foden, and Jude Bellingham join the likes of Harry Kane, John Stones, and Kyle Walker in a star-studded squad.

Rice admits England can have no excuses if they come up short at Euro 2024. The Arsenal midfielder told Men’s Health UK that it was his nation’s time to chance to make history:

‘With the team we’ve got, the players we have and everyone in form playing well, you need to back yourself to win. I feel like it is our chance; it’s time. What excuses can you give?”

The Three Lions start their Euro 2024 campaign off in Group C alongside Serbia, Denmark, and Slovenia. Southgate has two pre-tournament friendlies to have a proper look at his squad before the competition starts, facing Bosnia (June 3) and Iceland (June 7). Those games will allow him to see who should partner with Rice.