Gary Neville has admitted he got it “completely wrong” about Manchester United target Declan Rice in a frank post on social media.
Rice, 23, has established himself as one of the best midfielders in Europe since breaking through at West Ham at the age of 17.
The ex-Chelsea star is one the Premier League’s most consistent players and an England regular under Gareth Southgate.
His impressive performances for club and country have seen him attract interest from several of the game’s elite, including his former club Chelsea and Manchester United.
United have consistently been linked with a move for the Hammers ace, who would not be available for a fee less than £100million.
Few football supporters would disagree that Rice is what the Red Devils need at the base of their midfield.
Neville, however, took some convincing that the England international was the real deal when he was a youngster.
“Thought of the Week: ‘Don’t go too early’,” Neville posted on LinkedIn.
“This is something that I often say to myself in punditry. You form a view on something either in haste or we always tell ourselves sayings like ‘trust your first instincts’, ‘I knew I didn’t like them after five minutes’.
“However I interviewed Declan Rice this week for the overlap and I judged him as a young player at West Ham.
“I have to say I got it completely wrong. What an outstanding young person.
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“Authoritative, confident, humble and quite simply the most impressive young footballer I’ve interviewed in 11 years.
“He’s also a fantastic talent and I went too early!”
Rice has made 28 appearances in all competitions so far this season and scored three goals for a Hammers side challenging for the Champions League.
United are reportedly keen on the ace but a deal would cost them well in excess of £100million according to West Ham boss David Moyes.
“There was a bargain to be got with Declan at £100million, that bargain is now gone,” Moyes said in October.
“I think while you’re building and developing, people might always come and look at your players. But it’s good that they are because that tells us that they’re doing well.”