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Future Chelsea midfielder Declan Rice using current Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kanté for inspiration

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Learning from greatness

West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by James Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images

Highly probable Chelsea transfer target Declan Rice is showing signs of greatness week in and out for West Ham — including in Friday’s 2-1 win over Leeds United — as he continues his journey to stardom that started at Cobham many years ago and may yet return to the same place in the near future. (West Ham are doing well enough that a January move looks increasingly unlikely, but Chelsea are sure to push for the 21-year-old’s signature in the summer.)

Credit should be given to the coaching he’s received at the Hammers and of course Rice himself, who’s revealed that he’s using possibly the best source of inspiration as he looks to become a world class defensive midfielder.

“The main one I’ve always watched is Kanté in my position, the way he protects the back four, the way he intercepts, always in position. I think I’m fairly good at that but there are still things I can do that can take me to the next level.”

Of course, as amazing as Kanté is, he’s not the only one Rice is looking to for inspiration. He’s spoken recently of also modeling his game after the likes of Patrick Vieira and Yaya Touré — to add more forward threat — but when it comes to playing smartly in midfield and being in the right place at the right time, no one compares to the Chelsea man.

“Sometimes in games I get sucked out of position a little bit, attracted to the ball. I’m so enthusiastic to get the ball back for the team, I’m probably just better off saving my legs sometimes.

“I do more running than I should, put it that way. I’m so enthusiastic just to go and win the ball back where pretty much everything would come through me anyway if I stood right in the middle. That’s what Busquets and Kanté do.”

-Declan Rice; source: The Times via Metro

Distance learning may work, but in-person learning works even better, Declan!