Between The Lines: Manuel Pellegrini surprised by how mature Declan Rice is

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West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has been giving his verdict on midfielder Declan Rice, via whufc.com, and has suggested that he has been surprised about just how mature the 20-year-old is.

What’s the word, then?

Well, after a tough start to the season where he failed to make the squad against Bournemouth and was an unused substitute against Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the opening four Premier League matches, the youngster has since played the full 90 minutes in 19 consecutive top flight fixtures prior to the visit of Fulham on Friday night.

The player who has now pledged his international allegiance to England has been one of the standout performers for the east London outfit this term, and he continues to go from strength to strength despite his tender years.

When asked if he was the best youngster Pellegrini has worked with, the Chilean told whufc.com: “I worked with so many young players, it is difficult to compare 20 years of management and different players, but he is a very good player.

“I started with Javier Mascherano when he was 17 years old and he was similar to Declan Rice in his mentality – the mentality that when they are 17 or 19 years old it seemed that they have the mentality of 35 years old.”

How should his comments be interpreted?

By comparing him to Mascherano it is clear that Pellegrini feels that he has a special player on his hands, and one that he has surprised him with the mentality that he has despite only recently coming out of his teenage years.

To say that the London-born midfielder has the maturity of a 35-year-old is certainly a big compliment, and the Irons boss will want him to carry on listening and improving so his performance levels don’t drop anytime soon.