Declan Rice can follow Rio Ferdinand’s lead by attracting interest from “bigger clubs” and forcing his way into the England side, says Alvin Martin.
At just 19 years of age, the versatile Hammers academy graduate has already received plenty of attention.
An international tug of war between the Republic of Ireland and Three Lions has rumbled on for some time , while Rice’s club future was also called into question prior to penning a new long-term contract in December.
Premier League rivals were already reported to be shooting admiring glances in the direction of the London Stadium at that stage, and the youngster has enhanced his reputation since then.
Classy performances are being produced in a holding midfield role, while he also registered his first senior goal during a 1-0 derby win over Arsenal .
Martin believes Rice could now emulate a fellow home-grown Hammers star by securing a high-profile transfer, with the West Ham legend telling talkSPORT : “Declan looks a high calibre player.
“This doesn’t please me to say this but I think now the bigger clubs in the division will be looking at him and thinking ‘he will fit in to our team’ – a team that’s looking to win the title.
“That’s the sort of player I think he’s got the potential to be. He might not be there yet but I think it would be foolish for one of the top clubs not to look at him now and seriously think about taking him.
“Because if you come and get him two or three years down the line then you’re going to have to pay a lot more money for him.
“He’s going to cost a lot more now that he’s just signed a long-term contract so West Ham are in a really great position.”
While seeing Rice walking the same domestic path as Ferdinand, Martin also believes that a man already capped on three occasions by the Republic of Ireland could follow an iconic defender of the modern era into the England set-up.
He added: “Declan, I believe, is someone who is destined to play for England if his heart’s in it.
“He’s good enough to play in that midfield area.”