Chelsea play West Ham in a few short hours, which means that it’s time for another round of stories about Declan Rice, about his Chelsea connections past (Academy, etc) and present (Mason Mount’s BFF) and future (rumors rumors rumors).
Even Thomas Tuchel’s time was wasted with a question about the 22-year-old in the pre-match press conference, which the Chelsea head coach used instead to add to the chorus of praise that Rice has been getting over the past couple years.
“I am absolutely aware that [Rice] is a Chelsea boy and he comes through the academy and he is very close to our guys. He’s a very strong player.
“I am absolutely impressed by Souček and [Rice]. They are real helpers on the pitch, they have an incredible volume both of them. They take responsibility for high pressing, for deep defending, for filling the gaps on the wings, for deep build up, for goals from set pieces. Both of them are simply doing everything.
“Declan is an important member of the England team, so it speaks for itself. Very strong in build up, very intelligent in passing and, of course, they are quality players.
“On top of it, the two midfielders represent pretty much what West Ham is all about, they have the heart to play this game to the full extent and they are very good characters in sportsmanship. They play with passion, the whole team plays with passion, they never give up and there’s a lot of quality behind it.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football London
But as the Telegraph’s latest rundown tells it, the situation has not changed much since the summer. West Ham would still like to sign Rice to a new long-term contract, but he’s holding off on any such agreements and waiting to see if they can match his sporting (and financial) ambitions.
Other teams, including Chelsea and Manchester United first and foremost, are keeping an eye on things, but neither team have made any official offers and the latter have just made a massive change at the top that could result in a change of direction and thinking long-term as well. Meanwhile, for Chelsea, the futures of Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour will greatly impact any squad-building plans we might have regarding Rice ... or any other potential transfer target, like Aurélien Tchouaméni.
But it’s West Ham versus Chelsea, so we must meet our required quota, even if all that says is that “a move for Rice is currently not a given”.