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Published: 17:06 | 12/1/19

Rice will be "a top player", says Pellegrini


Declan Rice will become "a top player" for which ever country he chooses to represent, according to West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Rice, who signed a new five-year contract with the Hammers last month, netted the only goal of the game at the London Stadium on Saturday as West Ham beat Arsenal 1-0 in the Premier League.

The 19-year-old has won three caps in friendlies for Ireland but is considering switching his allegiances to England.

London-born Rice, who qualifies for Ireland through his grandparents, made his international debut in the March 2018 1-0 friendly defeat to Turkey in Antalya, but has yet to play a competitive international for his adopted country. 

"I am sure that Declan will be a top player," the Chilean said. 

"He is improving in every game that he plays and is now more used to give us a good build up in front and not so many passes that before he played back.

"He is very strong in aerial duels, strong in 1v1 and has a good technique which he demonstrated today in the goal he scored, so I am sure that we are seeing a top player soon - not only for West Ham, also for the national squad he decides to play for."

Pellegrini also urged Marko Arnautovic to commit his future to the club amid interest from an unnamed Chinese Super League club.

Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG have reportedly made a £35m bid for the Austria international, and are offering a four-year deal worth £200,000 a-week.

Arnautovic, 29, is under contract at West Ham until 2022, after signing a five-year deal with the club following his £20m move from Stoke City in July 2017. 

But his brother and agent Danijel Arnautovic said this week the forward wants to leave West Ham.

"We will see what happens in the next few days," Pellegrini continued. 

"The club must see what is best for the club, the player, for everyone.

"I hope he will take the best decision. 

"I have been in this position a lot of time in my 30 years, but I'm calm with nothing 100 percent sure [regarding Arnautovic's future]."

Photo Getty Images/Marc Atkins

By Nick Royle


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