By Saikat Mandal

21st Oct, 2021 | 5:15pm

Nikola Vlasic drools over West Ham midfielder Declan Rice

Nikola Vlasic has claimed that West Ham midfielder Declan Rice has impressed him the most since his summer move.

The Croatian joined the Hammers in the summer transfer window for a fee of £26.8m [BBC Sport], signing a five-year deal that includes the option for an extra year.

The 24-year-old has featured in two Europa League games so far, and David Moyes has confirmed that he will start against Genk.

Ahead of the match, Vlasic has showered heaps of praise on Rice, saying he is an “unbelievable” player.

The Croatian has admitted that before he joined the Hammers he knew that Rice was a good player, but on seeing him live, some of his notions about him has changed.

“When I talked with my friends I knew he was a good player,” Vlasic said, as quoted by Football.London.

“But when I watched TV I thought ‘okay he is a defensive midfield player and maybe he is not that quick or fast, maybe that is a minus for him’ but he is so fast and so quick and even with the ball this season I think he is much better and improved in attack.

“He is unbelievable for me, he has impressed me the most.”

Outstanding Rice

It is no surprise that Vlasic is heavily impressed with Rice. The England midfielder has been simply outstanding for his club and country this season, and he has taken his game to a whole new level.

Having impressed heavily during the Euro championships, Rice, who was already a top-quality midfielder, now has the confidence with him to make an even bigger impact.

A natural holding midfielder, Rice has looked dangerous every time he has made buccaneering runs from deep midfield. The most noticeable aspect about Rice’s game this season is the bundles of energy he brings to the side every single game.

His future has been speculated in the media constantly but it hasn’t affected his game. He has rejected two contract extension offers from West Ham already, but the Hammers are pretty relaxed about his situation.

Unless any potential suitor come up with a massive offer, West Ham won’t sell him, either in January or next summer. However, he could decide to stay put if West Ham can win a trophy this season and finish in the top-four.

In other West Ham news, Jack Wilshere has predicted a major Hammers exit, but reckons one goal would stop it.