Chelsea are still considering a move for West Ham United’s Declan Rice, with Frank Lampard understood to see the 21-year-old as a potential upgrade on his current crop of centre-backs.
Rice was let go from Chelsea’s academy as a youngster and has since gone on to establish himself as a core part of West Ham’s midfield, even earning himself a regular spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad in that role.
Rice has been converted to a midfielder in the last few years
Rumours of interest in Rice surfaced back in March, although there were doubts over how the Englishman would fit in among Chelsea‘s current crop of midfielders. However, The Sun state that Lampard actually sees Rice as a defender.
The Blues’ are said to be ‘growing confident’ that they will be able to get a £45m move for Rice over the line, and the player himself is open to the idea of changing positions.
As the story goes, Lampard is understood to be keen on utilising a three-man defence at Stamford Bridge next season, with Rice as a core part of that, and West Ham are well aware that keeping the youngster at the London Stadium may be a tough task.
Frank Lampard could use Rice as part of a back three
Rice actually began his career as a centre-back before being shifted further forward by Manuel Pellegrini ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, so it’s a position which he knows well and has even impressed in recently.
West Ham boss David Moyes recently suggested (via Sky Sports News) that Rice could be as good in defence as he is in midfield, saying: “Declan could arguably be my best centre-half and best midfielder so we have to try and see what we have got, who is fit and available and use him the best we can.
“We know he can give us something else in midfield, but he showed he is also defensively sound when he goes into the backline.
“He has improved so much, so going forward for himself and for us it is a great thing to have.”
Chelsea are eager to add a new centre-back to the squad for next season amid concerns over the lack of leadership during Lampard’s debut campaign. 90min understands Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly remains on their radar, but with any deal likely to cost in excess of £75m, Rice may be seen as a cheaper alternative.