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West Ham’s Lanzini: Declan can be better than Mascherano

PUBLISHED: 12:30 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:33 04 March 2019

Newcastle United's Florian Lejeune (left) and West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

Newcastle United's Florian Lejeune (left) and West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

Hammers midfielder hails young midfield star after win over Newcastle United

West Ham United's Declan Rice scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Declan Rice scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

West Ham star Manuel Lanzini says young midfield man Declan Rice is destined for stardom if he carries on the way he it at the moment.

And he insisted that he could become a better player than his Argentinian team-mate and former Hammer Javier Mascherano.

Speaking after his man of the match display in the 2-0 win over Newcastle United, the little South American heralded the progress of his team-mate.

“Declan for me is the hero of the team,” said the 26-year-old. “He is a very young player, but it is as if he has played 200 games – he is amazing.

West Ham United's Declan Rice celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Declan Rice celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

“I like to play with him because he has a good touch and he has good recovery, I think he is one of the best players in the Premier League.”

Strong words indeed and in recent weeks, manager Manuel Pellegrini and fellow Argentinian Pablo Zabaleta have both compared him to two-time Champions League winner Mascherano.

So what does Lanzini think?

“Yes, he is like him,” he said. “I played with Mascherano and he is a very good player.

Manchester City's Francisco Fernando and Barcelona's Javier Mascherano battles for the ballManchester City's Francisco Fernando and Barcelona's Javier Mascherano battles for the ball

“He is 34 and I think Declan needs to continue like he is, if he stays focused and I think he can, he can be better than Mascherano.”

Praise indeed, but the way Rice is playing at the moment, as long as he keeps his head, you would not bet against him doing just that.

Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland was in the crowd for the second home match running and he would have been impressed by what he saw.

And with an England squad to be picked next week, few would bet against the 20-year-old being in it.

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