Aaron Cresswell admits West Ham team-mate Declan Rice would reach “another level with better players around him”.
England midfielder Rice continues to be linked with a big-money move away from West Ham this summer after being courted by Manchester United last summer.
The Hammers are believed to have placed a £50m price tag on the England man to ward off Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
However, West Ham may find it hard to resist advances for the versatile 21-year-old if they are relegated.
And Cresswell, although keeping his fingers crossed the club can keep his pal, has said Rice would benefit from playing with better players.
Cresswell told talkSPORT: “He’s close to 100 Premier League games already, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a West Ham player and a good mate of mine, but I really do believe he’s one of the top talents in the country.
“I wouldn’t like to see him leave, but if he were to ever leave he would become another level with better players around him.
“He’s come in at centre-back over the last couple of games due to injuries we’ve had and he can play either. It’s a great option he’s got but in terms of ability-wise, he’s a fantastic player.”
Lampard denies Rice interest
One place Rice will not be arriving at is Chelsea.
The former Blues trainee has been mentioned as a target for Lampard, who has been tipped to move him into a defensive role.
However, Lampard speaking at his press conference on Tuesday brushed off any interest in the player.
“Declan Rice is a good player, you’re right, and I’ve known Declan Rice for a long time, as he was in the Chelsea academy, but there’s no talk,” said Lampard.
“I keep saying, about every player we’ll be asked about. Until these games and this season is finished, there’s nothing to say.”