West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell believes teammate Declan Rice is currently operating at a level that makes him the best central midfielder “in the world”.
The 23-year-old continues to go from strength to strength at the London Stadium as the Hammers prepare to face Lyon in the Europa League quarter-finals later this week, starting with a first leg showdown on Thursday night in the capital.
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Under David Moyes’ guidance, Rice has established himself as one of the Premier League’s most complete midfield operators and is now a permanent fixture in Gareth Southgate’s England starting XI, recently featuring in both of the nation’s international friendly wins over Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
Such has been Rice’s meteoric rise to prominence that he has naturally been linked with a host of Champions League-competing clubs, including Chelsea, whom John Terry backs to snap up the midfielder, believing he would be an “incredible addition” to Thomas Tuchel’s squad.
But, the former England international has not been the only man to wax lyrical about Rice in recent weeks, with Cresswell going as far as to describe his West Ham teammate as the best central midfielder “in the world”, even surpassing fellow free-kick specialist Dimitri Payet as the most talented player he has seen.
“In the past, I said Dimitri Payet is the best I’ve ever played with but given his progression it’s probably Dec now,” Cresswell told The Times.
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“I’m not saying it because he’s at West Ham: I believe he’s the best in his position in the world.
“Some might disagree, but from what I see, day to day and in games, over the last two years he’s kicked on another level.
“You look at the way he is for England, he’s so athletic, he’s got absolutely everything to be world class – and I believe he already is.”