Rice labels Bellingham 'the future of English football'
Declan Rice has described Jude Bellingham as "the future of English football", claiming his international midfield partner is the most talented 19-year-old he has ever seen.
Although England suffered relegation from the top tier of the Nations League last week, Bellingham has done no harm to his chances of starting at the upcoming World Cup during the international break.
With Manchester City's Kalvin Phillips enduring an injury-blighted campaign, Bellingham started alongside Rice in matches against Italy and Germany, impressing in a box-to-box role.
In Monday's 3-3 draw with Germany, Bellingham led England's charts for passes completed (41), touches (67), touches in the opposition box (six), duels won (eight), tackles won, interceptions and fouls won (all three).
Rice believes the Borussia Dortmund star's all-round ability is unique for someone of his age, telling the Daily Mirror: "I don't think I've seen anyone as good as he is for 19.
"I look at a lot of 19-year-olds, whether it's at a club, around the world, around the country. To have the whole package is a hard thing and I feel like he's got that.
"He's 19 but he's got the body of a 28-year-old – he's a man. He thinks like a man, plays like a man and shows personality and character.
"I've been around and played so many more games than he has in my career, but you can just tell as a 19-year-old what he brings to the team already, the energy he's got.
"He can play in a holding role, he can play as an eight, he can play as a 10.
"He's a man – you can see it when he plays for Dortmund. As a 19-year-old, you're normally scared to talk to the referee but he's in the referee's face demanding answers, demanding decisions and he leaves himself on the pitch constantly.
"He really pushes you on the pitch. We push each other on and it's a privilege to play next to him.
"Every time I play with Jude, we're building that connection and I say to him; 'you go and bomb on and do your attacking stuff and I'll sit here and defend for you'. So we're getting that good connection, he's great to play with.
"Hopefully, he keeps flourishing. He's the future of English football to come for the next 15 years."
While Bellingham's individual displays have earned rave reviews, England will begin the World Cup – against Iran on November 21 – having gone six games without a win (D3 L3).
This is their longest such run going into a major tournament, but Rice believes the Three Lions were much improved against Germany, adding: "We're sticking with a formation that needs work and we're working on that in training all the time.
"I feel like there's positive signs there. It's just a blip at the moment but that was a massive, positive step."