Pablo Zabaleta has tipped Declan Rice to become a future West Ham captain. The teenager has become a mainstay in the first-team and clearly has a bright future ahead of him according to the two time winning Premier League champion.
Both players featured prominently in The Hammers' recent 1-1 draw with Chelsea, with Rice stiffling Eden Hazard Alvaro Morata to keep his side in the contest prior to Javier Hernandez's late equaliser.
Zabaleta tips Rice for West Ham captaincy
"Decs has been fantastic," said Zabaleta. "It's fantastic to see him play at that level and he's' only 19-years-old."
"I can't believe that he is that young yet he is very mature and he is improving game after game. I love when I see young players from the Academy come through and playing that well."
With 25 appearances under his belt, Rice has proven to be an assured figure in David Moyes' back-four, producing five clearances and three interceptions against Chelsea at the weekend - superior to all of his teammates.
"I like to have him next to me because he is young and he has that energy to play and do some of the running. I hope I can help him and teach him how to defend."
"Listen this guy has a great future for this club. He will be a future captain for West Ham, I am sure about this. I am very pleased for him," Zabaleta confirmed.
Defensive improvement at Stamford Bridge impresses Zabaleta
To restrict Chelsea to just one goal at home despite 23 goal attempts takes some doing, with Joe Hart pulling off some astounding saves to help his side take a hugely significant point from Stamford Bridge.
The goalkeeper will be desperate to get himself onto the plane for England's World Cup squad and he didn't harm his chances, getting a brilliant hand on Giroud's header to steer it onto the post in the dying embers of the match.
Meanwhile, Zabaleta reflected on the rest of his defensive line as the squad prepare for a relegation scrap to retain their status in England's top flight.
"We worked really hard during the whole game to stop their front three because they have really good players upfront – Hazard, Willian, Morata, then Giroud came on and with Alonso on one side and Moses on the other side they also have pace.
“Given that, I thought we were really good defensively and really solid," Zabaleta concluded.