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Chelsea ‘leading race to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice’

Chelsea ‘leading race to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice’

Chelsea are reportedly best positioned to secure a deal for West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice during the summer transfer window.

The Blues are long-term admirers of the England international, who initially spent time with the Blues academy ranks as a teenager before signing for the Hammers.

Since then, Rice has developed into one of the most highly-regarded midfielders in the world, making a total of 215 appearances for West Ham in all competitions.

However, with the East London outfit possessing the option to extend Rice’s contract to 2025 should they so wish, a transfer away from the club has never come close to fruition.

Nevertheless, according to The Athletic, Rice has no intention of entertaining any contract extension and wants to play Champions League football.

West Ham United's Declan Rice celebrates on August 28, 2022© Reuters

The report suggests that there is now an acceptance among the West Ham hierarchy that they may need to sell their most prized asset during the summer transfer window.

Although the situation could theoretically change should West Ham earn Champions League football next season, David Moyes‘s side are 15 points adrift of the qualification places and more concerned with avoiding a relegation battle.

While Chelsea are as many as eight points behind fourth position themselves, it is suggested that they would have the edge in any transfer battle.

That is partly due to Rice having previously supported and spent time at the club, and the latest development comes when Chelsea will almost certainly be in the market for new midfielders ahead of 2023-24.

N'Golo Kante in action for Chelsea on August 14, 2022© Reuters

As it stands, each of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are due to be out of contract at the end of the season, and Chelsea may take the opportunity to get two players over 30 years of age off their wage bill.

That is despite the former revealing that he wants to stay at Stamford Bridge, telling talkSPORT: “Of course I do, I love Chelsea, but this is a thing I’m not going to think about now. I need to think about winning games. Otherwise it’s a problem.”

Chelsea are also unlikely to activate the permanent option that they possess to sign Juventus loanee Denis Zakaria, potentially leaving Graham Potter three players short in that department.

Although Chelsea are on the brink of confirming the signing of Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, the acquisition of the 18-year-old is viewed as one for the future.

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