Ask any West Ham United fan and they will tell you their biggest highlight of last season was the emergence of Declan Rice.
West Ham have endured two miserable seasons flirting with relegation since leaving Upton Park for the London Stadium.
If that’s what it took to expedite Rice’s rise to prominence both at club and international level then for many supporters it will all have been worthwhile.
Fans have been troubled by speculation the former Chelsea academy prospect might leave this summer after being rejecting an unsatisfactory new deal by the West Ham hierarchy (talkSPORT).
With just over a week to go until the close of the transfer window the 19-year-old looks unlikely to be sold, though.
Manuel Pellegrini has been using the versatile Rice – who can operate in central defence or in the heart of midfield – in various positions during pre-season.
The young Ireland star is equally adept in both roles.
But that in itself creates a welcome headache for Pellegrini, where to play him.
West Ham have invested around £40 million improving their defensive unit so far this summer with the signings of Lukas Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena.
Meanwhile only Jack Wilshere has been added to a central midfield department that was found wanting last season and will be without Manuel Lanzini for most if not all of this season.
That would suggest Pellegrini may see Rice as a central midfielder first.
But the Hammers have looked suspect at the back so far in pre-season and are coming off the back of having the joint worst defensive record in the Premier League last season with 68 goals conceded.
Rice would undoubtedly improve the defence and help shore things up but supporters have been debating where they want to see his talents utilised.
Central midfield seems to be the preferred option and here’s what some fans have been saying on Twitter.
Agree with you we need another dm but your not giving Declan rice enough credit. Watch him this year it seems his fancied in that position more this season rather than cb. Kid is going to be a big player.
— Rob Bryan (@RobBryan1987) July 29, 2018
Declan Rice could be a massive star in the defensive midfield position. I expect him to outshine most of the ‘superstar’ players in that position in the premiership. We have a jewel on our hands #westham #COYI #Hammers
— Mark Boundy (@markboundy) July 28, 2018
Trust me Kouyate isn’t PL quality. Had good moments 3 seasons ago, but is now lazy in defence, and isnt aware of his position.
Obiang can be a really good player, but sometimes his distribution and reading of the game is poor.
Declan Rice is defo West Ham’s future should he stay
— Ollie Coe (@ollie__coe) July 28, 2018
Yes. This is the transitional period for Mark in his handover to Declan Rice, both position and captain
— JamesTHarris (@jth100000) July 26, 2018
In your opinion, what is the best position for @WestHamUtd‘s Declan Rice?
— Tommie Sea (@tommie_sea) July 25, 2018
Declan Rice at CDM could be as good as Michael Carrick. Has the awareness to position himself in a defensive situation and a calm passer of the ball. Not many those type players round now days.
— Anthony (@terryant94) July 25, 2018
Declan Rice can slot into a CDM role and if he was last season at CB (not preferred position) then perhaps we won’t need to buy. Only 19 and already so good.
— Will (@ratchet_league) July 12, 2018
Manuel Pellegrini is likely to try out Declan Rice in a defensive midfield position and use him as CB cover.[Source: @ExWHUemployee] pic.twitter.com/Z8gEXd7DA3
— West Ham News (@whufc_news) June 20, 2018