Manuel Pellegrini believes Declan Rice is playing equally well as Fernandinho at the moment

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice recently ditched the Republic of Ireland to represent England internationally despite playing few friendly games for the former.

The 20-year-old has been one of the first names on the Hammers’ matchday team sheets since the arrival of manager Manuel Pellegrini, featuring in 23 Premier League games thus far this season.

Rice’s outstanding performances have surely caught the eyes of England manager Gareth Southgate, and he is said to be keen on handing the youngster a call-up to next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Pellegrini believes no English defensive midfielder is better than Rice at the moment, and he claims the West Ham man is playing as excellently well as Manchester City’s Fernandinho.

“He is ready to play for England. We are just starting the development of him as a player. But at this moment his performances are better than every holding midfielder,” the Chilean told The Sun.

“At least I am talking about the English players. Maybe there are other foreign players in big teams also playing well, like Fernandinho.

“But I repeat we are just starting to see what will be with Declan in the future.”

Fernandinho has been one of City’s best players under manager Pep Guardiola over the last three campaigns, and he has been in splendid form again this term, helping to regularly stop and start attacks and making the whole team tick.

The 33-year-old, who has been a City regular since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 has an assist and three goals in 25 league games this term, and Rice has everything it takes to become just as good as he is, or even better, if he keeps improving.

Predicted Leeds United starting line-up vs Bolton Wanderers
Predicted West Ham line-up vs Fulham