Pablo Zabaleta says his young teammate Declan Rice has all the attributes needed to go on to become a huge player for West Ham United.
Zabaleta, a two time Premier League winner, has seen Rice’s growth at close hand over the last year as the 19-year-old has established himself as a key member of the first team squad.
The Academy graduate has already featured 36 times in Claret and Blue and Zabaleta, now the elder statesman of the Hammers dressing room at the age of 33, believes he can keep on improving – especially as his dedication to the game is so great.
“Declan is young, he still has room for improvement for sure, but you can see he has the right attitude and ability to be become one of the greatest players for West Ham,” Zabaleta said.
“He looks so mature and he has proven week in, week out that he can perform for the team, so as a teammate for me he is one of those young players that you like to look after and all the information I can give to him I will.
“We don’t need to put so much pressure on him now, we need to help him to keep improving. It’s step by step and then let’s see how far he can go as a player.”
You can see Declan has the right attitude and ability to be become one of the greatest players for West Ham
Rice, along with the back four he screened so well, was an impressive performer in the Hammers’ 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Sunday – a result which Zabaleta thought shows his team are moving in the right direction.
He added: "We could have won the game. We had a couple of chances for Michail Antonio and Yarmolenko, but also they had some good chances as well.
“I thought the point was really good and I’m pleased with the performance of the team. Defensively we were solid, everyone worked so hard for each other and when you play against Chelsea you expect a tough game but overall I think it was a great performance.
“Chelsea have been one of the greatest teams so far this season. They’ve been playing really decent football and they have scored in every single game. The first clean sheet of the season for us against Chelsea is something that will bring confidence for everyone.
“Obviously we didn’t have the best start to the season and both games at home against Bournemouth and Wolves were not good enough. We needed to improve our performance at home and we did it against Chelsea."