At the end of his career, West Ham teenager Declan Rice will look back at the last few weeks as being the time that he began his journey of becoming a top class Premier League defender.
Rice, 19, made his full international debut for the Republic of Ireland with a man of the match display against Turkey a couple of weeks ago before helping the Hammers earn their biggest three points of the campaign on Saturday when they beat relegation rivals Southampton 3-0 at the London Stadium.
The defender was like a brick wall in the defence as David Moyes decided to give him just his eighth start of the Premier League campaign.
Rice’s performances have now led to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp comparing him to Chelsea legend John Terry, but also warning that there will be bids flying in for the Irish centre-back in the summer transfer window.
That means that Moyes and the Hammers board need to wrap up a new deal for the teenager as soon as possible to ensure that he is not snapped up by a team further up the Premier League standings.
Rice’s current Hammers deal lasts until 2020, but when he agreed those terms the teenager had made just a handful of appearances in the first-team and his pay is perhaps something that reflects that of an Under-23s player.
The Daily Mail reported earlier this year that the club were keen to tie him down to a £25,000-a-week deal, but so far, nothing has been finalised.
West Ham’s board have come under fire recently after failing to invest in the squad but they will go a long way in trying to earn the trust of the fans once more by wrapping up Rice’s contract as soon as they can.
In other West Ham news, the Irons are ready to make a £15million swoop for this goal machine from a fourth-placed club.