West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has been turning heads with his tremendous performances in the Premier League for the Hammers this season.
The 19-year old has been one of West Ham’s stand-out performers as he continues to establish himself in the heart of Manuel Pellegrini’s side’s midfield.
Rice has been reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund as he and West Ham continue to struggle over a new contract, with reports today suggesting that the club would be willing to wait until the summer to resolve the situation.
One high profile manager who has apparently been keeping tabs on Rice, is Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola. Despite West Ham being hugely outclassed by the Premier League champions in their 4-0 defeat, Guardiola still singled out the young man for praise.
“Declan Rice is an excellent young player and he will be a top English player for many years to come.”
Interestingly enough, Guardiola referred to Rice as an “English” player as he continues to be embroiled in an international tug-of-war between Ireland and England.
Rice pulled out of the Irish squad back in August when then manager Martin O’Neill outlined that the 19-year old was still deliberating over his international future amidst ongoing interest from Gareth Southgate and the England setup.
The West Ham man had made three friendly appearances for Ireland and was hugely impressive so losing him to England would be a massive blow.
However new Irish manager Mick McCarthy sounded confident when discussing Rice’s future at his first press conference on Sunday.
“I spoke to Declan’s father,” began McCarthy.
“I had a good conversation with him. Just clear up some things as well, some misconceptions
“Declan wasn’t here for the games because he had a fall out with Roy or with Martin, he’s got the utmost respect for both of those guys. But, he was asked by Gareth Southgate to go see St George’s Park. And to see whether he could be enticed to go play with them.”
“He didn’t say he wanted to or didn’t want to. But he found it overwhelming. I remember saying myself he should just get into the West Ham team and take a back seat and see how he’s doing.
“Well he’s got into that West Ham team, and he’s doing well and I’m going to go speak to him in December, when his father is around and sit down and have a chat with them both.”
Guardiola’s phrasing may have simply just been a slip of the tongue but the fact that many involved in the game are already associating him with England is still unquestionably worrying.