West Ham midfielder Declan Rice remains on Chelsea’s transfer radar despite Graham Potter’s arrival at the club, according to reports.
The 23-year-old has been the subject of long-term interest from Chelsea dating back to when Frank Lampard was in charge of the club.
When he was sacked and replaced by Thomas Tuchel, the German declared his admiration for the England international amid strong transfer interest from Chelsea for the former academy star.
Back in April this year, the now former Chelsea head coach said: “Very highly (I rate him).
"He seems to be a very nice guy from what everybody tells me and is from the Chelsea academy and he proves this (his quality). That’s the most important thing. It feels like he plays every single game.
“He is available, is captain, plays with a lot of responsibility, is a physical player, very strategic-minded player, a key player for his team, and is strong at set-pieces. This is not a surprise. Everybody sees this. He is a huge part of the success of West Ham and it is impressive.”
West Ham have held firm on their stance of Rice, who is now club-captain following the summer departure of Mark Noble, and demanded over £100 million for their prized-asset which no club wanted to pay.
He will effectively have two years left on his current deal at the end of the season, with West Ham having the option of a further 12 months on his 2024 deal.
The futures of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho at Chelsea remain unclear. Both are out of contract at the end of the season, and Kante has already rejected an initial offer from the Blues.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Jorginho will be offered a new deal, however he is happy at Chelsea despite interest from Italy.
However, as reported by Matt Law of The Telegraph, Chelsea are looking to sign ‘at least one young, top-class midfielder next summer’ and Rice has emerged as still a target.
The new owners were warned off making a summer move for the England star but could test West Ham’s resolve next summer.
Jude Bellingham, who currently plays for Borussia Dortmund and valued at £130 million, is also of interest and Chelsea are already carrying out work to see if a deal is possible amid strong interest from Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Manchester City could also be interested in both Rice and Bellingham, offering Chelsea competition as they look to bolster their midfield next summer.
Potter is set to be backed by the new owners, led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, and midfield signing of the calibre of Rice or Bellingham would send out a strong statement to Chelsea’s rivals, both domestically and in Europe.
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