The Premier League’s most expensive transfers
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Gabriel Agbonlahor has taken a swipe at Roy Keane after suggesting the former Manchester United footballer is a “very bitter person” in a war of words over West Ham star Declan Rice. Agbonlahor addressed comments made by Keane in his defence of the Hammers captain, believing that he is being held back by his club, before aiming a thinly-veiled jibe at the Irishman.
Both Agbonlahor and Keane have moved into punditry after finishing their playing careers and it appears the topic of Rice’s talents have clearly brought to the surface some previous bad blood between the two men.
Rice is expected to leave West Ham this summer as he is yet to sign a new contract and his current deal expires in 2024.
The England international has been linked with a £100million move to several Premier League clubs, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City all reportedly keen on the box-to-box midfielder.
But Keane, who thrived in a similar role at Old Trafford in a trophy-laden 12-year period at United, has cast doubt on whether Rice has done enough to warrant such praise and a big-money move.
“He has first got to focus on West Ham and doing well for the rest of the season, but I don’t think he has been great this season, I don’t think he has kicked on for all the talk there has been about him – he needs to do a lot more,” Keane said on ITV after United beat West Ham 3-1 in the FA Cup.
“He doesn’t score enough goals or get enough assists. I have been a fan of him, he is always fit, but I just want a little bit more from him. There is talk of him leaving for big money and competing with teams for trophies, and he needs to do a lot more, it is as simple as that.
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“Sometimes I see him play at West Ham, and he goes through the motions and he needs to do a lot more to match the top midfielders in the country.”
Agbonlahor played for Aston Villa while Keane worked at the club as an assistant to Paul Lambert, and Keane has since revealed he didn’t like some players in the squad, even resorting to calling them ‘scumbags’.
It seems Agbonlahor was not too fond of Keane either, describing him as “bitter” when launching a defence of Rice.
“I’ve watched him for England when he’s maybe got more of a freer role to go more forward, but you watch him at West Ham, he’s got to sit there,” he said on talkSPORT.
“He’s got [Tomas] Soucek who wants to get on the end of crosses, he hasn’t got the licence to run forward. When he’s at it, Declan Rice, he can run with the ball, he’s got that long stride, he can score goals… a great striker of the ball.
“I think sometimes some of these pundits like Roy Keane – who is a bitter guy, I had him at Aston Villa and he was very bitter person – has something against him. He’s what West Ham value him at.”
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