West Ham United boss Manuel Pellegrini has paid tribute to Declan Rice as the speculation surrounding the teenager’s future continues to gather pace.
Rice will see his current deal with West Ham expire at the end of next season, and it is understood that the two parties are still some way off in terms of an agreement.
Indeed, Rice is still on £3,000 a week at the London Stadium, and has already rejected an offer in the region of £15,000 a week, if reports are to be believed.
Tottenham Hotspur, amongst others, are said to be closely watching developments when it comes to the 19-year-old’s future, which is a horrible thought for the West Ham fans.
And Pellegrini has been speaking about the midfielder ahead of West Ham’s trip to Huddersfield Town in the Premier League this weekend.
Pellegrini is quoted as saying by West Ham’s official website:
“Declan has a lot of potential to arrive at the level he wants. He is learning a lot of things very fast and improving his performance in every game. I hope he will be a top player in some years more.
“He is a very important tactical position for the team and I think he has a lot of potential.
“He is mature for his age as a player. Young players try to do what they think is best but Declan is always listening to what we are telling him. If you compare him now to his first game, he is doing very well and improving with every game.”
Pellegrini is clearly sending a message to the West Ham board, who are playing hard ball when it comes to Rice’s future.
The Republic of Ireland international is an incredibly popular figure with the West Ham fans, and has the credentials to one day captain the Hammers.
Pellegrini would never speak out directly against the board, but the fact that the South American has praised Rice so highly is a message that West Ham cannot afford to lose a player of his ability, especially to a Premier League rival.
Rice is closing on 50 first-team appearances for West Ham, and Pellegrini will he hoping that there will be many more, but that depends largely on the club’s board.