Declan Rice is so good he can develop into the next John Stones and be a star man at an established Champions League club, according to Noel Whelan.
The West Ham starlet has been linked with some of the Premier League’s giants after making a huge impression since graduating into the first team last season.
Rice, 20, has established himself as a lynchpin of the West Ham team under Manuel Pellegrini in a midfield anchorman role this season after initially breaking through under ex-manager David Moyes at centre-back.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan is convinced Rice can thrive in either position and tips him for the top following his impressive England debut last month.
“He has done brilliantly since he’s come into the West Ham side,” Whelan said. “He’s good enough to play at centre-back or in a deep midfield role, just like John Stones.
“The big question is, how long can West Ham keep hold of him? He is absolutely good enough to play for the top Premier League clubs and in the Champions League.
“He’s going to achieve huge things, there’s no doubt about that. I think West Ham will be able to keep him this summer, but it will be difficult after that.”
Rice has made 34 appearances in all competitions, remarkably playing the full 90 minutes of 29 league matches on the trot, including Monday night’s defeat to Chelsea.
Among the clubs linked with a summer swoop for Rice are Manchester United, Manchester City and his former club Chelsea.