This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Following their victory at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday afternoon, West Brom boss Slaven Bilic has mounted praise on Nathan Ferguson by comparing him to Declan Rice in quotes on Express & Star.
The Baggies extended their unbeaten run in the Championship to a ninth straight game and in doing so became the sole leaders of the division at the weekend.
A 2-0 victory over QPR in the weekend’s early kickoff handed Bilic’s side their first clean sheet and fifth win of the season.
Youth product Nathan Ferguson opened the scoring early in the second half with a marauding run and having been given all the time and space in the world he sweetly dispatched an effort from 25 yards out.
The sending off of Rs centre-back Yoann Barbet allowed Matheus Pereira to net from the resulting free-kick as he slotted home underneath the jumping wall.
Bilic has since come out and compared the 18-year-old to Rice, who the Croatian handed his West Ham debut to back in 2017, he said:
“Nathan reminds me of Declan Rice.
“He is only 18 on paper. But in his mind, I don’t know, is he 25 or 27, he is a kid but only a kid in a positive way.
“It is our job to keep him humble. There is no doubt he has an extremely bright future and a great career in front of him.”
It may seem strange to compare a full-back to a midfielder, but what Bilic says has some truth.
Rice is primarily a defensive midfielder, at least that’s where he has mainly played for the Hammers during the last two seasons.
Before then, he started out as one of their centre-backs, so the comparisons can be made there as Ferguson also began in that very role before moving to right-back this season and he has now been operating on the left in Kieran Gibbs’ absence.
The Croatian has an eye for young talent having gifted the England international his first taste of professional football with a similar story ensuing here, as the 18-year-old has gone from being an academy prospect to a first-team regular overnight.
Ferguson has played all but one Championship game this season and his form is quickly making him undroppable.
He picked up his second Man of the Match award in another televised game as well as recording an average rating of 7 or better in three straight games, culminating in an 8.48 score versus QPR on Saturday, per WhoScored.