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West Ham United’s Declan Rice ‘remains Chelsea’s top midfield target’

West Ham United’s Declan Rice ‘remains Chelsea’s top midfield target’

West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice remains Chelsea‘s number one midfield transfer target, according to a report.

The Blues have long-been linked with a move for their former academy graduate, who spent seven years in the Stamford Bridge ranks between 2006 and 2013.

Rice ultimately departed as a teenager to sign for West Ham, where he has amassed 10 goals and 12 assists from 205 appearances at the age of just 23.

David Moyes quickly handed Rice the captain’s armband, and the England international has started all 10 of the Hammers’ games in the Premier League and Europa Conference League this term, setting up two goals.

Despite strong interest from Chelsea and other top European clubs, West Ham deemed Rice untouchable, but he is only under contract at the London Stadium until 2024 with the option of a further year.

Declan Rice in action for West Ham United on September 8, 2022© Reuters

According to 90Min, Chelsea are still keeping a close eye on the 23-year-old’s situation at West Ham, and he is still at the top of their wishlist for a marquee midfield signing.

The report adds that Todd Boehly touched base with West Ham to inquire about Rice soon after his arrival in West London, but the Blues co-owner was quickly rebuffed.

However, Boehly and Chelsea are not giving up on their pursuit of Rice, who is supposedly expecting to end his lengthy stint with West Ham at the end of the season.

While Chelsea are at the head of the queue, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have all been linked with a swoop, and West Ham are not giving up hope of Rice signing a new long-term deal.

Moyes has always insisted that Rice is not for sale, and the Hammers boss claimed earlier this year that it would take a fee in excess of £100m for the club to even consider sanctioning a sale.

Chelsea owner and chairman Todd Boehly pictured in the stands on August 27, 2022© Reuters

“You’ll need humongous money to get close. I said in the summer that I thought Declan Rice was £100m. That was the sales, that was cheap, that was your chance to get Declan Rice cheap,” Moyes told reporters in the spring.

“He’s like a special edition. For me, he’s probably the best midfield player in Europe. He’s here for certainly a few years. He’s under contract and we are pleased to have him.”

Chelsea are facing uncertainty with two of their midfield regulars in N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, both of whom are due to become free agents at the end of the current campaign.

Despite Kante’s poor injury record, Chelsea are thought to be hopeful of agreeing a new contract with the France international, but talks have supposedly stalled over the length of his new deal.

Meanwhile, Jorginho has been tipped to complete a free transfer to Barcelona in 2023, although the Catalan giants are not thought to be actively pursuing the Euro 2020 winner at this moment in time.

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