Rice: Transfer sagas will not distract England

Declan Rice insists that the transfer speculation surrounding a number of players within the England squad will not be a distraction as they prepare for one of the biggest games of their careers against Germany.

Manchester City are considering a move for Jack Grealish after the Euros and have already bid £100m for Harry Kane, while Manchester United are in advanced talks over a deal for Jadon Sancho.

Rice has been repeatedly linked with possible moves to Chelsea and United, with Kieran Trippier, Raheem Sterling and Ben White also potentially set to switch clubs this summer.

Jadon Sancho
Image: Jadon Sancho, who is yet to start at Euro 2020 for England, is closing in on a move to United

But Gareth Southgate has made it clear to the squad that those concerns must be put to one side until after the tournament, and Rice says the players have bought into that plan.

“There is speculation, but the main focus is country, trying to win this tournament,” said Rice.

“If players want to move, then that can be sorted after the tournament. Gareth has always said you have to be strictly focused on England, and whatever happens at your club takes care of itself after the tournament.”

‘I’m sure Gareth wants to get his own revenge’

Rice also says England’s players want to win their last-16 tie against Germany on Tuesday for their manager, to eradicate Southgate’s painful memories against Germany in the Euros.

England manager Gareth Southgate (PA)
Image: England players are out to get revenge for Southgate against Germany

Southgate missed England’s crucial penalty against Germany in the semi-final shoot out at Euro ’96. In his autobiography, he described himself as the man who shattered a nation’s dream.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” admits Rice. “I’m sure Gareth is going to want to get his own revenge with that.

“He missed a penalty. Everyone misses penalties. I missed one two days before the end of the season. That’s football. But for Gareth, I’m sure he’s ready, and I hope we can do it for him so that he can get his own revenge.”

Rice has had his own penalty nightmares. As a young player coming through Chelsea’s academy, he says he cost his team on a number of occasions.

“Three different tournaments at Chelsea as a kid, and three penalties to win it for us, and I missed all three,” he added. “That doesn’t sound very good.”

‘I’m positive I can put the ball away from penalty spot’

England midfielder Declan Rice (PA)
Image: England midfielder Declan Rice is ready to take a penalty at Euro 2020 if needed

Rice says he’s grown since then, and taught himself a better penalty technique. He says the England squad practise penalties on a regular basis, after most training sessions.

“I think as a kid, I was excited and nervous,” he said. “I’ve been practising them at West Ham all year too, and it’s just about that process in my head.

“When the ref blows his whistle, you don’t have to go straight away. Give yourself a couple of seconds, breathing techniques to try to relax yourself. And then visualisation – how you see yourself putting the ball in the back of the net.

“Those are all the things that I’ve been trying to develop as I got older.”

He says if it comes to spot-kicks against Germany next week, England’s players won’t shrink under the pressure.

“If my name is called to go up there and do it, I’m positive I can put the ball away,” he added.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter