England manager Gareth Southgate must drop West Ham star Declan Rice in favour of Tottenham ace Harry Winks to achieve a more progressive style of play for his team, according to The Athletic journalist Jack Pitt-Brooke.
Rice has been a mainstay of Southgate’s starting lineup since switching international allegiances from the Republic of Ireland, but Pitt-Brooke does not believe he is the right man to anchor the Three Lions’ midfield.
Writing in a Q&A for the Athletic, he said: “If Southgate honestly wants the football he says he wants, it has to be Winks over Rice.”
Pitt-Brooke is pulling absolutely no punches here, and West Ham fans won’t be best pleased about it. Rice is a hero in east London, and questioning him so openly is bordering on blasphemous. But does Pitt-Brooke have a point? That really depends on your point of view. Looking at the stats of the both Rice and Winks for this current Premier League season, it becomes abundantly clear that there is little to separate them. When it comes to passing accuracy, for instance, Winks edges it 92.1% to 89.5%, as per Whoscored. Similarly, the Spurs man makes more key passes and has a higher total of passes per game. In that respect, he is perhaps more creative than Rice, but it also important to recognise that Rice has more tackles, interceptions, and a higher Whoscored rating per game so far this term. In short, they are two different players with different strengths, and if Southgate is smart, he may not have to choose between them at all. Why not play both with a more attacking option like James Maddison or Mason Mount in front? It would provide balance and a long term solution to an increasing issue for England in the centre of the park.