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Ex-West Ham boss Bilic: Rice can be world class if he...

Former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic believes Declan Rice's future should be at centre-back.

Bilic had conversations as a West Ham player with an emerging Rio Ferdinand, telling him he had the technical qualities to be a good midfielder, but could be a world-class central defender.

"He's doing exactly the right thing to play in different areas of the pitch and see which one he is most suited to. He is learning all the time," said Bilic.

"I remember how happy and proud he was to come off the bench against Burnley for his step. Since then he's shown everything you need in midfield. To take the next step to be world-class, you need that cleverness in passing, like we have in Croatia with Luka Modric or Ivan Rakitic.

"Declan liked to smile and laugh but he was serious about listening and playing the game, that is why he was involved at such a young age. We liked to bring players in from the academy and under-23s to to train with us but not many were able to take on the information.

"He was unbelievable and though I couldn't say he was a regular at 18, he was always involved."

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