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The secret is out: Declan Rice is good at football

The 19-year-old is increasingly likely to be summer transfer target

Swansea City v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

At the start of the season, there were several West Ham prospects we hoped would muscle their way into the first team. Reece Oxford, Toni Martinez and Nathan Holland all attracted strong expectations, but few thought Declan Rice would be so firmly entrenched in the team at this crucial stage of the season.

Moyes showed great faith in the 19-year-old by placing him in central defence for the must-win relegation battle with Southampton. Rice was exceptional, making 3 tackles, 3 clearances and crucially blocking 2 shots, instrumental to West Ham’s first clean sheet since February.

Rice has made 20 appearances this season, Hammers fans have seen a great development over the season. There were a few early mistakes, as is natural, but fans have mostly been patient with Rice’s development.

Rice recently made his first international appearance, a man of the match performance at the heart of the Republic of Ireland’s defence against Turkey.

It now seems like the secret is out and the big clubs might start circling in the summer. Jamie Redknapp recently compared Rice to John Terry:

“This kid is the next John Terry. At 19 he plays with maturity, is unbelievably brave and comfortable on the ball,”

”Rice capped a fine week, in which he was man of the match on his Republic of Ireland debut against Turkey, with an assured display against Southampton.

”This summer I have little doubt that West Ham will be fighting off bids for their young star.”

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - Carabao Cup Fourth Round Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Fortunately for West Ham, the club are looking to reward the youngster with a new contract in the summer. Reportedly this new deal could increase his current wages ten-fold, his current deal is worth £2,500 per week and expires in 2020.

Rice’s stock has risen throughout the season but in the last couple of months we have seen a vast improvement and it feels like an exciting future is on the horizon.

Now that West Ham’s Premier League status is more secure, we can cast an eye towards next season. Rice anchoring the defence with Reece Oxford is a very exciting prospect. The Academy of Football has roared back to life.