The Hammers remain adamant the England international is not for sale and have slapped an eye-watering £150million valuation on him to stave off interest. However, the east London club appear resigned to losing their prized asset in the summer, even though the midfielder has never agitated for a move away.
According to The Evening Standard, Declan Rice prefers a move to Chelsea over Manchester United if he is to leave West Ham at the end of the season.
West Ham manager David Moyes is hellbent on keeping hold of Rice, 23, who has a contract until 2024, with the club having an option to extend it by another year. The English midfielder, however, has already turned down two offers from the Irons amidst interest from top Premier League clubs including Chelsea and Man United.
A deal between Chelsea and Rice would be difficult following the UK Government sanctions on Roman Abramovich, which has frozen his assets and prohibited the club from signing players in the summer transfer window, the report adds.
Declan Rice to Chelsea—Is he worth the hype?
Declan Rice has established himself as one of the finest young midfielders in the Premier League at the moment, and it is not surprising that he is courted by many clubs.
Chelsea aren’t in an immediate need to strengthen their midfield options, but the fact that N’Golo Kante and Jorginho have entered their 30s will not be lost on the club.
Kante has been a great performer for the Blues since joining from Leicester City back in 2016, racking up close to 250 appearances and winning the Premier League, the Champions League, the Club World Cup, the Europa League, the Super League and the FA Cup in the process. However, the diminutive France international has been troubled with groin, muscle, knee and hamstring injury problems over the last three seasons, limiting him to 71 Premier League appearances combined.
Perhaps, the summer could be the right time for Chelsea to ease the burden off Kante’s shoulders. Thus, several midfielders have emerged on the Blues’ radar lately, with Rice a viable option to be a long-term successor to the 2018 France World Cup winner.
In the last few years, Rice has come leaps and bounds, becoming a key figure for West Ham while also establishing himself as a regular for England under Gareth Southgate. To date, he has amassed nine goals and as many assists in 183 appearances for the Irons.
This season, the Englishman has done well to average 2.3 tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 1.3 clearances, 0.7 shots, 0.7 key passes and 1.5 dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League. The 23-year-old has been a crisp passer of the ball, as evidenced by his 91.1% passing accuracy, 58 average passes and 3.1 accurate long balls. (stats courtesy: whoscored)
At 23, Declan Rice has the potential to become a complete midfielder in the future. Thus, Chelsea would be wise to splash big on the West Ham captain this summer if they are cleared to sign players, as the England international could be the perfect long-term replacement for Kante.