Declan Rice says 'incredible' Chelsea dribbler is 'tough to play against'

West Ham ace Declan Rice was full of praise for Mateo Kovacic as he named the Chelsea star among his top five current midfielders in the Premier League.

Speaking about the current top midfielders in the Premier League, Chelsea certainly have a number of players who should be in the conversation.

Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are two examples, who finished third and fifth in the 2021 Ballon d’Or final ranking, respectively.

However, Rice, who has also established himself among the league’s elite midfielders, seems to rate the other member of Thomas Tuchel’s key midfield trio higher than even Jorginho and Kante.

Photo by Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

“He’s incredible,” the England international told BT Sport when talking about Kovacic.

“I think you don’t really realise how good he is until you play against him. Obviously, when you watch him, you appreciate the good footballer that he is.

“He can take the ball in tight areas, his dribbling ability is unbelievable, he can find a pass, control games, and is fairly quick as well.

“He’s always been a tough opponent to play against.

“Every time I played against him, even in the Euros, he’s done some stuff on the ball where I thought, ‘Wow, he’s a top player.'”

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

To be fair, Kovacic can often surprise even many Chelsea fans, who watch him play virtually every week, with his ability on the ball.

There are very few things more satisfying than watching an exceptional dribbler glides past players on the pitch — and Kovacic is certainly one.

According to Opta (via Whoscored) the former Real Madrid star averages 1.9 dribbles per game in the Premier League this season, the second-highest at Chelsea after Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the eighth-highest in the competition.

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A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.