"Destined for the very top" - Jonathan Walters praises Declan Rice after his performance in West Ham win 7 months ago

"Destined for the very top" - Jonathan Walters praises Declan Rice after his performance in West Ham win

"One destined for the very top."

Declan Rice earned significant praise for his performance in West Ham United's win over Southampton on Thursday evening.

The 19-year-old excelled as the Hammers came from behind to win 2-1 in the Premier League tie.

Felipe Anderson scored twice after Nathan Redmond had opened the scoring for Southampton. Manuel Pellegrini's team moved into ninth-place in the table.

Rice was instrumental to the victory.

Always in the right place at the right time, Rice read the game like a veteran midfield general. He barely made a poor touch in what was a complete midfield performance. His passing was crisp and precise and his positional sense excellent.

Rice doesn't turn 20 until next month, he has barely played 50 professional games and his natural position is in central defence. Yet, he bossed the game, staying cool as Southampton pressed and harried the away side.

There are some Premier League midfielders with five-times his experience who don't look as composed - some of them have played many times for England and are regulars for top-six clubs, (Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier).

Rice's display showed once again why there are two international teams chasing him.

According to reports last week, Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy met with the West Ham midfielder and set him a deadline of March to decide his international allegiance.

There were also reports that Rice has decided to continue his career with Ireland.

However, Gareth Southgate may make another pitch to Rice and try to entice him to play for the country of his birth.

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It remains to be seen how the situation will be resolved. But there are no doubts over Rice's ability. He looks set to have an excellent career.

Jonathan Walters, who played alongside the West Ham midfielder for Ireland, tipped him to reach "the very top" following his performance in the win over Southampton.

Walters reckons that Rice has to be considered amongst the three best young players in the Premier League.