Declan Rice has become an England regular in the past six months under Gareth Southgate, which has seen the midfielder receive extra plaudits for his maturity.
After switching international allegiances from the Republic of Ireland, he has been handed the chance to impress at the base of the Three Lions’ midfield.
That’s something he has grasped with both hands which has seen him continuously linked to Manchester United who are looking to position young, British players at the centre of their rebuild.
According to West Ham legend Tony Cottee, the Red Devils will not be the only club interested.
“I do like him [Rice] as a centre-back. I think he will end up there,” he told talkSPORT.
“That’s what you are buying. You’re buying a holding midfielder player, but you are also buying a player that can play centre-half in a back four and in a back three as well. So, you are getting a really, really top player.
“Of course, let’s not forget, he did grow up as a Chelsea fan. Maybe once their embargo [is lifted], they’ll be looking as well.
“There are many, many teams that will be interested in Dec, but I want him to stay at West Ham. And to do that they need to win [a] cup or get into Europe.”
Rice was dragged off at half-time on the opening day of last season in the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool in August 2018.
That was something the versatile 20-year-old has learned from and taken in his stride on his way to becoming a fan favourite in east London.
He has now locked down a position in Manuel Pellegrini’s midfield and is developing a reputation as one of the best holding midfield players in the Premier League.
West Ham are understood to be “angered” by recent speculation linking Manchester United to Rice.
In a recent interview with FourFourTwo, the defensive-minded player was asked for his take on rumours linking him to Old Trafford.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve got the ability to play for a club like that,” he said.
“But it’s all about the timing and I don’t think the timing is right for me at all. I’ve still got so much to learn.
“I’m loving it at West Ham, the connection between me and the supporters is special.
“I’ve become one of the fans’ favourites and the manager likes me. It’s the best place for me to play my football.”