Bent wasn’t impressed with the 20-year-old in the 2-1 defeat against the Czech Republic recently as he was too negative when on the ball, something that Winks changed when he was in the midfield against Bulgaria, with his passing putting them on the back foot instantly in Sofia.
“I’m telling you now if I’m picking a team – I like Declan Rice, I think he’s a very, very good young footballer – but for me, Harry Winks is better, simple as that,” he told Football Insider.
“Rice is better in the challenge, I’ll give you that, can really put a challenge in, but if you’re talking about someone similar to say a Michael Carrick – gets on the ball and his first pass to look for is forward. That is massive because that puts teams on the back foot.”
“Against the Czech Republic, a lot of Declan Rice’s passes were sideways and backwards – that doesn’t really help get anywhere.”
It seems harsh on Rice for Bent to suggest that Winks is much more effective for England. The 20-year-old has been phenomenal in the past couple of seasons, and his rise to the top to play for the Three Lions has been reflective on that. Winks may get on the ball, but the Hammers’ midfielder offers much more than just his skill in possession. Players such as Rice and Henderson always seem to come under scrutiny on the international stage, and that criticism is unjust given their success both on that stage and domestically. Rice has continued that form for West Ham this season, averaging 3.8 tackles per game as well as 2.3 interceptions according to WhoScored, much more than Winks, who only has better passing to boast about. Rice isn’t in the side to be a playmaker under Gareth Southgate, but actually to disrupt opposing sides in games in which England might not dominate like they usually do.