The Sky Sports pundit was particularly impressed with his ability to sit in a deep role and control possession for his country, claiming his early exposure as a central defender helped with that.
Speaking to Football Insider, Mills raved over the 20-year-old and his sense of maturity to sit deep and not want to venture forward instead.
“As a natural defender, he’s quite happy to play that role,” he said.
“That’s what he’s good at. He has an awful lot of quality on the ball. We know how good he can be.”
“It takes an awful lot of discipline to play that role, be happy to sit there and not want to venture forward, not want to score goals and be that creative player. He’s prepared to drop off and do his job. That’s incredibly important. He’s clearly one for the future, we know that.”
Rice has been ever-present in the Premier League under Manuel Pellegrini this season and earned his fourth England cap in the 4-0 demolition job over the Bulgarians.
The 20-year-old certainly impressed for the Three Lions on Saturday, and his display alongside Jordan Henderson was superb. Rice managed to get on the ball at any possible opportunity and look to start fresh attacks, making 95 passes in the game – only Kieran Trippier managed more with 98 according to WhoScored. Although being placed in holding midfield, recycling possession was most likely his main job under Southgate. That will be different at the Hammers though, and Rice has further demonstrated just how good he can this season already. As well as passing, Rice has been phenomenal in shielding his back four. The England international has averaged an impressive 3.5 tackles per game so far this season, as well as 2.3 interceptions according to WhoScored, proving he can fit in well both in a defensive line-up but also an attacking one. Mills is right to heap praise on the young midfield general, who will only continue to get better with his exposure to international football.