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Pablo Zabaleta noticed something about Declan Rice during first West Ham training session

Pablo Zabelta absolutely raved about West Ham captain Declan Rice, when speaking to the club’s official website.

The Argentinian right-back is now retired, having spent 12 years in the Premier League with Manchester City and the Hammers.

READ…Report: West Ham refuse to buckle as ‘incredible’ player demands huge £100k-a-wk salary

Three of those years were with West Ham and Zabaleta was a hugely popular figure at the London Stadium with both the players and the fans.

The 37-year-old was at West Ham when Dec was coming through the ranks as a teenager. Zabaleta saw first hand just how talented the England international was during training sessions and games.

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

And he has opened up on just how highly he rates Rice…

Pablo Zabaleta raves about ‘incredible’ Declan Rice

Zabaleta left West Ham in the summer of 2020.

He made a huge impression in East London and it seems as though one Hammers player in particular did the same to him.

Zabaleta absolutely raved about Declan Rice, when speaking to the club’s official website:

“As soon as I walked out for my first training session with West Ham, I could see that Declan was a different player to any other 18-year-old around. He’d only just made his debut in the final match of the previous season, but already he had an incredible maturity, mentality and technical understanding of the game. And during these past two years since I’ve left the Club everything has changed for him – today, Declan’s an established England international and captain of West Ham United. He’s a great lad with a nice family supporting him and I hope that he continues to enjoy his football while keeping both feet firmly on the ground. Declan’s got another 10/15 years at the top and it’s so important that he keeps himself surrounded by those good people.”

Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images

Zabaleta isn’t wrong is he.

Rice has matured into one of the very best defensive midfielders in world football, if not the best.

The sky’s the limit for the 23-year-old and keeping him at the London Stadium will be one of the most important tasks at hand for David Moyes over the the course of the next 12 months or so.

And the comments from Pablo Zabaleta on Declan Rice prove just how special the 23-year-old West Ham star is.

Read other West Ham news:

Report claims ‘rapid’ West Ham target is now ‘very close’ to joining London rivals

Report: West Ham told to pay £20 million to sign ‘extraordinary’ attacker this summer

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