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Chelsea target former academy player Declan Rice — report

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Arsenal FC v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

According to a report from Sky Sports, Chelsea are interested in bringing back former Chelsea Academy player Declan Rice to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were reportedly already looking for a new defensive midfielder in the winter — (ed.note: perhaps seeing the whisper-it-very-quietly-decline and persistent injuries in Kanté) — but were unable to get any action from Lille over Boubakary Soumaré. Rice, who at age 21 already has 90 Premier League appearances, is supposedly our new primary target.

Mason Mount’s long-time best friend, with whom he still hangs out even when he shouldn’t, was released from Chelsea in 2014 at age 14 after seven years at the academy. The young midfielder/defender was then picked up by West Ham, and quickly rose through the ranks to make the jump from youth to professional football.

Since his professional debut during the 2016-17 season, Rice has been collecting individual awards left and right, twice winning West Ham’s Young Player of the Year award (2017 and 2018) and being named their Players’ Player of the Year last year. He was also selected for the Irish and the English national teams, opting to pledge his future to the latter in 2019, and making seven appearances for the Three Lions since.

It won’t be easy for Chelsea to get Rice given that he has four years left on his current deal with West Ham. But he would surely be up for re-joining Mount and all the other Academy players now making waves on a regular basis at the Bridge, perhaps beginning next season if the transfer market goes ahead as intended in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.