Former Portsmouth keeper David James causes a storm with blunt verdict on West Ham midfielder Declan Rice's next move

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Former Pompey keeper David James has caused a social media storm following his blunt assessment of where West Ham midfielder Declan Rice should end up this summer.

The ex-Blues stopper, who won the FA Cup with the Fratton Park outfit in 2008, was asked for his opinion on the transfer saga by Sky Sports.

Both Arsenal and Manchester City are keen on the £100m-rated England midfielder, who will be allowed to leave the Hammers this summer. But James – who also played for the Iron – did little to endear himself to Gunners fans by rubbishing Arsenal’s credentials in their pursuit of the in-demand 24-year-old.

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Despite Mikel Arteta’s side finishing second in last season’s Premier League title race and securing Champions League football for next term, James said: ‘Why would he want to play for Arsenal? One team are the European, FA Cup and Premier League champions - the other is neither, or none.’

He added: ‘Declan is top-drawer and Man City are the best team in Europe - and are probably going to be the best team in the world in a few months if they win the Club World Cup. If Declan Rice is part of that it's because he deserves to be, so all the best to him if it happens.’

Unsurprisingly, James’ verdict didn’t go down well with Arsenal supporters. @filipinagooner responded on Twitter by saying: ‘Who the hell is David James? Thought its a brand of clothing or something’. @NorthBankB9 wrote: ‘Says an ex city player. Sometimes it’s better to join a new exciting project and win something and become a hero rather than just another player’. Meanwhile, @fixitineurope commented: ‘Because David himself didn't measure up, in his prime he was way below the Arsenal level. No hard feelings David’.

James’ view on Rice’s next move will come as little surprise given the fact that he featured 100 times for City before his £1.2m move to Pompey in the summer of 2006. As well as winning the FA Cup with the Blues, the 53-capped England International also won the 1995 League Cup with Liverpool.

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As for Rice, West Ham’s asking price for the midfielder is yet to be matched, with Arsenal seeing two bids rejected by the London Stadium side.

David James, left, was asked for his opinion on the future of Declan Rice, right.David James, left, was asked for his opinion on the future of Declan Rice, right.
David James, left, was asked for his opinion on the future of Declan Rice, right.

It’s been reported that the Gunners have been encouraged to make a third, while City are still to launch a formal bid.