Declan Raice tipped to develop into West Ham great by Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta (R) jokes with Declan Rice
Image: Pablo Zabaleta (R) jokes with Declan Rice

Pablo Zabaleta believes Declan Rice has the ability to develop into one of West Ham’s greatest players, and has urged the club to agree a contract extension with the 19-year-old.

Rice has less than two years remaining on his current contract, although the Hammers have the option to extend the deal by a further year.

West Ham have been in talks with Rice since April, and although they are yet to reach an agreement, Sky sources understand the club are confident they will do so.

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Former Manchester City defender Zabaleta has played with plenty of world-class players during his career and sees vast potential in Rice.

Declan Rice
Image: Declan Rice has made a strong start to the season with West Ham

"He has the right ability and attitude to become of one of the greatest players for West Ham," Zabaleta said.

"West Ham need to think about his situation because even though he is young he looks so mature and he is proving week in, week out he can perform for the team.

"As a team-mate, for me he is one of those young players that you like to look after and help with all the information you can give him.

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"As a team-mate, for me he is one of those young players that you like to look after and help with all the information you can give him."
Pablo Zabaleta on Declan Rice

"You try to help out as much as you can, but then, of course, there are people who make decisions in this club about contracts and all those things and there is nothing I can do about it.

"He has more to learn but all the players need to look after him and keep his feet on the ground because even at the age of 19 or 20 and you play two or three good games in this league, you attract attention from everyone.

"There was all the stuff about the Ireland and England football teams and you have to know how to manage those situations. But it is important for his family and the players around him to look after him."

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