The former Hammer claimed that Noble played a big part in the starlet’s progression at the London Stadium, looking after him and acting as a mentor for the 20-year-old.
Cole said in an interview with talkSPORT: “Credit has to go to Mark Noble as well, who I know looks after him and acts as a mentor. If you’ve got a good senior professional within a team who has a strong voice on the pitch, that can take your game up by 10 to 15 per cent.”
“I believe those two formed a really good partnership towards the end of last season.”
Rice has established himself as a starter under Manuel Pellegrini in the past two seasons, and recently made his England international debut, finishing the season with three caps.
Noble has spent his entire career with the Hammers, making a total of 467 appearances for the club. The 32-year-old is showing no signs of stopping either, featuring 31 times in the Premier League last season.
There aren’t better many mentors to have at West Ham, if not the entire Premier League than Noble. The veteran midfielder has been the thorn in the side of many teams in the top-flight for the previous decade and more, with his constant drive in the middle of the park causing great problems both in attack and defence. Last season, Rice started to add goals to his game, which has previously been dominated by his defensive style. Yes, Noble scores the majority of his goals from the penalty spot, but he can also push forward and chip in through different strikes – as proved against Watford last season. Manuel Pellegrini is onto a winner by partnering Rice’s youth with the experience of Noble, and he has reaped the benefits in recent times. The 20-year-old averaged the most tackles per game in the Hammers’ squad last season with 2.9, whereas Noble delivered the most assists and averaged the most completed long balls from an outfield player with 4.4 [Source: WhoScored]. The two combined create a great partnership and Rice is only certain to get even better – a scary prospect for any Premier League side.