West Ham captain Mark Noble has insisted that the sky is the limit for Declan Rice after the young defensive midfielder committed his future to the Hammers by signing a new long-term deal.
Rice has come through the ranks in east London after joining the club at the age of 14, with club veteran Noble acting as a mentor for his fellow midfield en-route to the 19-year-old becoming a first team star at the London Stadium.
The Irish starlet has been one of the Hammers’ standout stars this season, making 16 Premier League appearances so far under Manuel Pellegrini. Noble said of Rice’s new contract, via the club’s official website: “It is fantastic news for both Declan and for the Football Club.
“I have spoken to him regularly about his situation and Declan is on a massive high now. He’s come into the team, he’s playing fantastically well and now he has signed a new long-term contract, which he thoroughly deserves.
“I’ve said to him that I’m always here for him because times aren’t always good and aren’t always smooth playing in the Premier League at a high level, so I’ve told him to keep learning, keep improving and keep enjoying it.
“For him, I think the sky is the limit and I’ve always said that. He’s a top player and every day that I can help him along in his journey is something to be proud of.”
Rice himself insists that he is committed to building a long and successful career with the Hammers, joking with the club's website that him and Noble had talked about the West Ham skipper's appearances milestone.
“We were speaking the other day and when I told him I was signing, he actually said ‘You’ve got 400 games to go to catch up with me!'" Rice began.
“Nobes has been unbelievable with me since I’ve first come in with the first team and trained with them part-time at 16, he’s always been there to talk to and to help.
“When I got moved to the first team full-time, the way he has mentored me has gone to another level.
“To play with him on the pitch, you can tell why he’s been playing at the top in the Premier League for all his career.
“He was here the last time I signed a contract and I’ve just spoken to him now and it’s great to be staying here now with him and with this Club.”
Noble and Rice could be set to line up alongside one another once more as West Ham travel to face Burnley at Turf Moor in another testing Premier League clash on Sunday.