West Ham star Declan Rice says he is inspired by Liverpool heroes and revealed he is scared of playing against one particular Tottenham Hotspur man.
Big players make big headlines and that is certainly the case for West Ham star Rice.
The West Ham talisman has become one of the top players in Europe. With that comes constant stream of stories linking Rice with a move away from West Ham.
Hammers fans are well used to it but no less sick of hearing the same tired speculation over and over again.
Man United, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been linked with Rice for some time.
David Moyes made it clear after the transfer window closed that clubs had missed out on a £100 million bargain with Rice as his valuation of the midfielder increases with every brilliant display for West Ham and England.
Tottenham and Liverpool fans know all about seeing their best players linked with other clubs. The Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah sagas being the most recent examples.
Hammers and England star Rice has been compared to a host of different players in his career so far.
Rice has seriously caught the eye this season as his game continues to develop at a rapid pace with a new rampaging box-to-box style elevating him to a new level.
When asked in an interview with The Telegraph if he is trying to emulate anyone in particular, Rice was unequivocal in naming Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as his inspiration.
And another modern day Liverpool midfield star also inspires Rice. He says Thiago Alcantara is the best player he has faced and described how difficult it is to go up against the silky Spaniard in the midfield battle.
West Ham’s Declan Rice says he is inspired by two Liverpool heroes and scared of Spurs star
There was also a word on Spurs star Lucas Moura who West Ham star Rice praised as being a seriously tricky customer.
“Now I have gone more box-to-box (midfielder) I have been watching Steven Gerrard just because of how good he was,” Rice told The Telegraph.
“He had everything. He could tackle, was tenacious, was fast, was a leader, could score goals, he wore his heart on his sleeve.
“He was just unbelievable. He was one of the greats but you don’t actually really fully appreciate him until you watch him. I watched the likes of Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira in terms of driving forward with the ball, their silkiness, when to hold people off, when to run with it, when to play the passes.
“But for all-round play Gerrard is the one I aspire to be…
“When I play against (Liverpool midfielder) Thiago (Alcantara) he is so silky,” Rice adds.
“The way he plays, you try to press him and he is thinking two, three steps ahead every time. There are the City lads like De Bruyne who just pick up awful positions to defend.
“I have played against (Tottenham star) Lucas Moura twice this season and he’s a real pain because he is so sharp, so quick and can get away from you, one two-touch. I am never scared of anyone. I would put myself up against anyone. But there are players who you think ‘yeah, he’s got a bit. You can’t dive in, get sucked in to how they want to play’.
“But if I was to say one it would definitely be Thiago.”
Rice is a generational talent. And as he becomes the youngest player to make 150 league appearances against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day he has already cemented his place in West Ham’s history.
But if Rice can get anywhere close to the player Gerrard became for Liverpool then West Ham – and England – are onto a winner.