‘He’s ahead of Roy Keane’ – Declan Rice compared to Man Utd legend as Pearce says ‘not a chance’ he is leaving West Ham

STUART PEARCE has claimed Declan Rice is already “ahead” of Roy Keane in his development as a footballer.

Declan Rice, 23, has already matured into one of the finest midfielders on the planet and is vital for both club and country.

Pearce knows Rice well having served as an assistant coach at West Ham for the last two years, before leaving earlier this summer.

The 60-year-old also spent time playing with Keane at Nottingham Forest when the Manchester United icon was at the City Ground during the early stages of his career.

And Pearce reckons Rice is further ahead in his development than Keane was at the time.

When asked if Rice was a future England captain, Pearce told talkSPORT: “Without a doubt. Just keep maturing, keep doing what he’s doing, add some goals to his game, 100 per cent.

“I was fortunate enough to play with Roy Keane at Nottingham Forest. He was an outstanding talent when he arrived.

“I think at the same age, and I’m rolling the clock back two years for Dec, I would say he is slightly ahead of Roy.

“Now, Roy went on to bigger things than Declan has achieved at this moment in time.”

However, Pearce admitted Rice does have to add goals to his game in order to become a complete player.

The England midfielder has scored just nine times in 192 games for West Ham.

Pearce continued: “Roy had a lion underneath the engine and a will to win. I’m not suggesting Declan hasn’t and he won’t grow into that.

“With Dec’s stature, if he started to add goals to his game… he is so important to West Ham, sitting in front of the back three, but if they could free him up more, he would score goals as well.”

Despite rumours of a big money move away from East London, Pearce is convinced Declan Rice will be at the London Stadium next season.

The Hammers have slapped a £150million price tag on him in a bid to ward off interest from Manchester United and Chelsea.

Pearce added: “Declan’s ability, his recovering tackles are sensational. Players think they have room when he’s five years away but he covers that ground with a burst.

“He is like a lion hunting down a wildebeest that’s injured, he’s a brilliant player and he’ll be at West Ham next season.”

Pearce revealed David Moyes is building a team around the midfielder, and there is “not a chance” he leaves West Ham this summer.

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