By Noel Whelan

21st Sep, 2021 | 8:45am

Rice 'one of top two' in Premier League after 'brilliant' West Ham stats reveal - Whelan

Noel Whelan has heaped praise on Declan Rice as West Ham prepare to take on Manchester United for the second time in four days.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Premier League striker claimed the 22-year-old is now “one of the top two holding midfielders” in the divison.

Rice started his fifth consecutive league game of the campaign on Sunday as the Hammers were beaten at home 3-0 by Manchester United.

The centre-midfielder completed 96.8 per cent of his passes over the 90 minutes – no player who started the game for either side bettered him. (Whoscored)

West Ham travel to Old Trafford on Wednesday night in the EFL Cup third round and Rice will be in contention to start.

When asked by Football Insider assistant editor Dylan Childs for his assessment of Rice’s development, Whelan said: “Rice is a brilliant player.

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“He is top class, there is no doubt about that.

“He stands out like a sore thumb in that position. I’d say he is one of the top two holding midfield players in the Premier League.

“He really is just getting better and better. On the ball, driving with the ball, passing, decision making and tackling are all areas he is continually improving in. He is also a great athlete.

“West Ham have made massive strides over the past 18 months and Declan Rice has been a big part of that.”

In other news, pundit tells West Ham to ‘shake hands’ with Connor Goldson after an update from Rangers source.