Highly-rated defender Declan Rice has signed his first professional contract with West Ham.

Rice progressed through the ranks into the Development Squad last season and was one of the Academy’s star performers, helping the under-21 side to win the U21 Premier League Cup.

The 17-year-old put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal. Upon signing his new deal, Rice told the Club’s official website he is delighted to be a part of West Ham’s future and hopes to emulate the success of fellow academy graduate Reece Oxford.

“It is an amazing feeling to sign a three-year deal with West Ham and it is exciting to be part of the Club as we move into the new Stadium,” Rice said.

I have gone from a scholarship to signing a professional contract and it has all happened within the space of six months as I was playing so well.

“With the players that West Ham are now attracting, it is amazing to train with the first-team and hopefully I can be a part of it next season.

I am so happy that Reece and Josh Cullen have broken into the first-team. Hopefully I can follow in their footsteps and impress Slaven Bilic during the pre-season.

“Slaven and his backroom staff give so much advice to the younger players and help them out a great deal and I love the chance to train with the first-team.”