The narrative was set up perfectly for young Declan Rice last night, captaining his current team for just the second time, facing the team that let him go as a schoolboy and has been recently linked with bringing him back home.
Unlike his old team, Declan Rice duly delivered, showing quality on and off the ball as West Ham ran out 3-2 winners and consigned Chelsea to a third consecutive winless visit to the Olympic Stadium. Rice, deployed in midfield this time after recent appearances at center back, was instrumental in the Hammers holding Chelsea at bay in open play, while also factoring in with some incisive passing and strong play in rare possession at the other end, including most notably in West Ham’s second goal.
Michail Antonio may have been the Man of the Match, but Rice showed some of the qualities that would sure be useful in this Chelsea side — and the sort of qualities that would’ve helped prevent Michail Antonio from being the Man of the Match, not to mention all the rest of the team’s defensive frailties in open play and on set pieces.
While one player will not solve such issues, it’s not hard to see Declan Rice being part of a solution.
And just go and sign Declan Rice please. Ta.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) July 1, 2020
It is why his name continues to be linked with Chelsea, and is why we get reports like the one from The Athletic last night, which, citing “club sources”, reiterates that Chelsea are not only “considering” the 21-year-old but he’s one of the “main names” being considered for defensive reinforcements.
Chelsea are looking at Declan Rice as a potential centre-back target, writes @SJohnsonSport. He had the latest in a series of very impressive performances against his old club last night https://t.co/s2NeaGdkSA #CFC #WHUFC— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) July 2, 2020
Publicly, all involved continue to play down such possibilities — Lampard doesn’t comment on other team’s players; Moyes wants Rice to stay and build a team around him, etc. etc. etc. — but Chelsea certainly have the funds to make a play and if West Ham still manage to go down despite us gifting them 6 points this season, then Rice would surely have one hand on the exit door at least.
After signing Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, Chelsea have improved the attack. Signing Kai Havertz would be tremendous and perhaps game-changing, but signing someone like Declan Rice might be more impactful in the long run. And hey, maybe if we can move on some of the deadwood in the squad and the Loan Army, we might even be able to bring in both.
That should be a nice thought after the horrors of last night.