Arsenal star Declan Rice faces stinging blow as player he raves about 'may join Man City'

Declan Rice believes Adam Wharton is ‘ready for the big stage’ (Image: Getty)

Arsenal’s Declan Rice may be forced to watch on while a midfielder he believes is ‘top level’ joins Manchester City. Rice has been bowled over by Adam Wharton in England training, and City are reportedly following the Crystal Palace youngster with a view to making a future move.

Wharton was nowhere near the international picture at the start of the season but a sensational few months at Selhurst Park following a £22.5million January move from Blackburn Rovers saw him handed a maiden senior call-up ahead of Euro 2024.

And manager Gareth Southgate has been so impressed with the 20-year-old that he gave him game time from the bench in the 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday, and subsequently selected him in his 26-man tournament squad.

As his rapid rise continues, there is a chance Wharton could be deployed alongside Rice at the base of midfield in England’s opening Euro 2024 group game against Serbia. “In training, I’ve been on his team quite a lot and [liked] the way we’ve played together,” said Rice.

“He’s come to Palace, been outstanding, and in training has impressed a lot of the players. He’s so composed on the ball, has a beautiful left foot, really crisp passing. He will be ready when called upon. He’s ready for the big stage.

“There’s a difference between players that are top-level players at 20 and players that are just on the cusp of stuff — and he’s really top-level. He sees a pass early. He plays simple, but beautiful, effective football. I can’t give him enough credit for what he’s done.”

Adam Wharton impressed on his England debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina (Image: Getty)

While Rice is clearly relishing the opportunity to train, and potentially play alongside Wharton on the international stage, the pair could be destined to become rivals at club level.

Arsenal and City battled for the Premier League title in each of the past two seasons, with Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues coming out on top both times. And the reigning champions are putting together plans for the future of their midfield with one eye on Wharton, according to the Evening Standard.

City are not expected to put a bid in this summer, given their midfield is still jam-packed full of stars and Wharton only signed for Palace four months ago. But with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Kalvin Phillips all facing uncertain futures, a move for the England youngster may not be far off.

Whether Arsenal will join City in the hunt for Wharton remains to be seen, but Rice has certainly made his feelings on the player known ahead of a potentially fruitful partnership in Germany this summer.