Chelsea are interested in signing Declan Rice from West Ham this summer, and sources close to the club have suggested that the Blues have already laid the groundwork ahead of pushing through a deal.
Having had his hands tied last year by the club’s transfer ban, Frank Lampard is in the market for a number of reinforcements this summer, and the Chelsea boss has identified central midfield as a problem area that needs addressing.
West Ham star Declan Rice fits in snuggly with the category of player Lampard has been looking to build his Chelsea team around, and now the Blues look like firming up their interest in the 21-year old.
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Rice’s Chelsea reunion?
Rice had spent his formative years with Chelsea at the beginning of the century, joining the club as a precociously talented seven-year old before he was released aged 14.
The former Republic of Ireland international forged a tight bond with current Chelsea star Mason Mount during their time together in the club’s underage set up, and the pair impressed together while representing England last year.
Frank Lampard has been keen to include as many of Chelsea’s academy products as possible as part of a major culture change at the club, and signing former Blue Rice would add another home-grown gem to his already packed stable of Chelsea-bred youngsters.
Lampard wants to solidify his midfield
Chelsea boss Lampard is believed to be after a defensive midfielder this summer to help to better protect a defence that has been leaking far too many goals this season.
Only Burnley (40) and Tottenham (40) have conceded more goals than Chelsea (39) so far this term in the Premier League’s current top 10, and the Blues secured just two clean sheets from their last 10 fixtures in the lead up to the campaign’s postponement.
Italian international Jorginho has been deployed as the deepest of a midfield three this season, though the 28-year old remains better on the ball than off it.
N’Golo Kante tends to excel when asked to play a screening midfield role, though the Frenchman has been asked to play a more box-to-box game by Chelsea’s last two managers Frank Lampard and Maurizio Sarri.
Chelsea had been heavily linked with a move for Lille’s midfield all-rounder Boubakary Soumare in January, though their attempts to sign the highly-regarded 21-year old fell through.
Declan Rice seems destined for the very top. Read about some of the Premier League wonderkids that never made it here.
Rice comes with a hefty price tag
While Chelsea seem determined to get their man, the Irons’ valuation of their starlet could prove a stumbling block for any potential deal.
Rice still has four years to run on the long-term West Ham contract he signed back in 2018, and it would take a monumental fee to tempt the Irons into selling.
Already, a figure north of £60m has been bandied about in the media, though West Ham’s uncertain Premier League status could have a major impact on Rice’s eventual valuation.
If the Irons are relegated, the fee required to sign Rice could drop dramatically when the club attempt to deal with the financial implications associated with dropping down a tier.
Chelsea will cross London to play West Ham when the Premier League finally resumes later this year, and the Blues could have a unique opportunity to help drive Rice’s price down by pushing West Ham deeper into relegation trouble.
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