Long-term Chelsea transfer target Declan Rice looks set to leave West Ham United in the summer, with the club having conceded “internally” that they will have to let go of their 24-year-old captain, who’s made it abundantly clear that his ambition is to play Champions League football.
Rice apparently wants his departure to be as amiable as possible, though that doesn’t mean that West Ham will let him go on the cheap. That may yet lead to some conflict over an eventual transfer fee, with estimates ranging wildly from an already outrageous £75m to double that amount at £150m.
That, along with his eye towards European competition, will naturally limit his potential destinations, and at the moment, that also puts Chelsea in a rather non-advantageous position. Barring a significant turnaround in the second half of the season, we’re at least a couple seasons away from returning to the Champions League. Rice might not want to take that gamble, despite all the ties he has with us, both on a personal level (especially when it comes to Mason Mount) and on a professional level as our former trainee.
The Athletic’s report does surmise that Rice would still fit our new m.o. of focusing on younger talent in the transfer market — after admiring glances from previous managers Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel — but it might take more than just money to help make up his mind. Manchester City and Manchester United are both credited with strong interest as well, and they have the inside track if they want.
(The report also mentions our interest in Jude Bellingham, which might play out very similarly to our interest in Rice; and it also expects both Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté to leave at the end of the season, which seems a solid bet at the moment.)