West Ham United

West Ham United

Premier League • England

Declan Rice in awe of ‘incredible’ Jude Bellingham amid prediction; shuts down lingering England criticism

Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Tyrone Mings, November 2020

Declan Rice says he has no doubts that fellow England midfielder Jude Bellingham will become an “incredible” player as he continues his fantastic rise.

Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham has emerged as one of the most exciting English talents despite only being 19. And despite his tender years, he has already achieved so much.

The midfielder has become a Bundesliga and Champions League star after leaving Birmingham.

Furthermore, he already has 15 England caps. And such a rise has attracted transfer interest from Liverpool and others, who will reportedly have to pay £131million to sign him.

Bellingham is therefore likely to be at the heart of England’s midfield for the next 10 years or more. He could well have 23-year-old West Ham man Declan Rice for company for a lot of that time.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Rice tipped Bellingham for big things in the future.

“He’s energetic, strong, self-belief, no fear, he’s got everything,” Rice said of his international team-mate. “Nineteen, but he’s a man.

“He’s played on the big occasions already, when I’ve played with Jude I’ve loved it. He’s going to be incredible.”

Asked about partnering with Bellingham, Rice said: “It takes time to settle with a partner, we’re not going to get that connection straight away but over time you do.

“Even with all the other midfielders in the squad, I hope that we can go on for the next 10 years and create a special bond in the middle of the pitch.”

Declan Rice tackles England criticism

Rice and Bellingham are two of the standout players in Gareth Southgate’s final, 28-man squad before he names his World Cup contingent.

Other standout names are Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw – but for their lack of action and form instead.

Indeed, the Manchester United pair have lost their places to Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia, respectively in Erik ten Hag’s team.

However, Rice insisted that Southgate’s core group of players always delivers. Shaw and Maguire starred at the World Cup in 2018 and at Euro 2020.

“I feel like Gareth knows how to get the best out of the players he’s selected,” Rice said. “There’s a core group here that know how to work with him, every time we come here we feel like we’re ready to play.

“The confidence is sky high and that’s why he picks the squads he does because he knows what he’s going to get out of players.”

And Rice added that he himself has rediscovered his top form with England at times, despite being on a bad run with West Ham.

“Playing for your country brings something out of you which you just can’t describe,” he said.

West Ham man in spotlight

Amid the criticism of Maguire and Shaw keeping their England places, the spotlight is also on Rice.

West Ham have not had the best start to the Premier League season, picking up only one win from seven games.

That result came against Aston Villa, who have been struggling themselves.

In the Europa Conference League, meanwhile, West Ham have made hard work of their two wins from two games.

West Ham boss David Moyes has admitted deep-rooted problems with his team this season. And Rice has to prove himself in the England midfield in the current international break.

He has, of course, faced criticism for his deep-lying role with England, despite showing more box-to-box traits for the Hammers.