Gallagher rates Arsenal star as ‘one of the top five players in the world’

Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher considers Arsenal and England star Declan Rice to be among the world’s top five midfielders.

Despite some criticism aimed at Rice during England’s uneven Euro 2024 performance, Gallagher maintains that Rice is “world-class” and continues to improve.

Arsenal’s record signing had an outstanding debut season at the Emirates Stadium, playing in all 38 Premier League matches as the Gunners narrowly missed out on the title once again.

‘I would say around the top five,’ Gallagher told talkSPORT when asked where he would rank Rice.

‘I can’t think off the top of my head now but he is definitely up there and the exciting thing is he’s getting better as well.

‘He’s only just moved to a top team like Arsenal and he’s still improved massively from when he was at West Ham. So it’s really exciting for everyone England and like I said, he’s a top guy as well.

‘I think he is pretty much a world-class midfielder, he’s been fantastic for Arsenal so far and I’m sure he’s going to keep improving.’

While Rice has been a near-constant presence for England in the Euros, playing almost every minute, Gallagher has mostly featured as a second-half substitute. He came on during the group games against Serbia and Denmark before being subbed off in the scoreless draw with Slovenia.

In the match against Slovenia, Gallagher replaced Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold but was substituted at half-time for Manchester United’s Kobbie Mainoo.

For the last-16 match against Slovakia, Gareth Southgate opted to keep Mainoo in the starting lineup, with Gallagher being brought on in extra time as England defended an unexpected lead.

‘Obviously it’s not nice,’ Gallagher said of his half-time substituion. ‘You want to play as much as possible and to get an opportunity to start a game for England at a major tournament is incredible.

‘I was really excited. But it was a really difficult game, I don’t think we were particularly playing great or creating many chances.

‘I understand the manager wanted to change a couple of things tactically and bringing on Kobbie to come a bit deeper and get on the ball, progress the ball is completely understandable.

‘What is great about the manager is that he came and told me before, before he told the team, so I knew and it was fine. Obviously, you want to play as much as possible but I completely understand.’

Ex-Arsenal skipper Granit Xhaka will be part of the Switzerland team hoping to end England’s Euro dreams on Saturday.

The 31-year-old midfielder helped Bayer Leverkusen claim a stunning Bundesliga title last campaign after leaving the Gunners.

‘He’s obviously a top player as well,’ Gallagher said of Xhaka. ‘He had a good time at Arsenal and obviously had a fantastic season at Bayer Leverkusen.

‘Obviously he’s got loads of experience, a lot of quality. He’s a leader for Switzerland. So we’ve got to make sure we’re at our best whoever comes directly up against him, he is a great player.’

JB

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