'If I was Man City I would be looking at Rice' - Walters backs West Ham midfielder for the top

The former Republic of Ireland international believes the youngster has the qualities to make an impact at the highest level

Manchester City have been urged to sign Declan Rice after the West Ham midfielder was backed to go ‘right to the top’ by Jonathan Walters.

Rice’s future has been up in the air for some time now with rumours circulating about a number of top-six clubs looking to lure the England international away from the London Stadium.

Premier League leaders City have been linked with an approach, but local rivals United have been mooted as favourites to sign the 20-year-old as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepares for a summer squad rebuild.

Walters is not surprised by the level of interest in Rice and believes the holding midfielder would be an ideal recruit for Pep Guardiola’s City side.

“In my opinion he can go right to the top and without a shadow of a doubt he’s a target for the big teams, whether that be Manchester United or anyone else," said Walters, speaking exclusively to 888Sport.

“If I was Manchester City I would be looking at him (Rice) because of the position that he plays where he can sit in front of that back four and do an unbelievable job. 

“He’s available for the ball and right foot, left foot he deals with it. His passing is simple but he’s got a range.

“He covers a lot of ground and breaks up attacks. He can take players on. He is an ultimate player in that role and I’d be surprised if plenty of clubs aren’t in for him this summer.” 

Rice came under fire earlier this season after declaring for England, despite coming through the Republic of Ireland set-up at youth level and playing three games for the senior side.

Regarding that decision, former Ireland international Walters said: “I know Declan pretty well because obviously I was involved in the Irish set-up with him. 

“I spoke at length with him on his decision – both before and after – and I was desperate for him to declare for Ireland.

“He has gone with what he feels and you can’t argue with what someone feels. You could argue with the fact that he maybe shouldn’t have played in the first place but not with what he feels. 

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“It takes courage to make such a decision and he has made it and that doesn’t change my thoughts of him.

“I still think he’s a great guy and unbelievable player.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Jonathan Walters and his thoughts on how Manchester City should target ‘ultimate midfielder’ Declan Rice