Chelsea are eying up West Ham midfielder Declan Rice as the solution to their defensive issues, as their vulnerabilities were exposed once more in a 3-2 defeat to the Hammers on Wednesday evening.
For all their hutzpah going forward, Frank Lampard's side have conceded as many goals as 15th place Brighton in the Premier League this season.
Rice was released by Chelsea as a 14-year-old and has since gone on to establish himself as a regular in the heart of midfield for club and country.
The Blues have been linked with a reunion with Rice since March, and according to a report in the Athletic, they are considering him as the direct solution to their central defensive concerns, rather than as a midfielder.
Rice began his career as a centre half, only emerging as a central midfielder during the 2018/19 season due to his impressive passing ability.
The report states that Chelsea consider Rice as central defender material because he is 'commanding, has an aura about him and importantly talks/communicates really well.'
it is said that Rice is now one of the 'main names being discussed' by the Blues' hierarchy.
The fact that he is young and English is also considered a bonus, with the 21-year-old fitting the mould of player that Lampard is attempting to build his squad around.
When quizzed about Rice in his pre-match press conference, Lampard praised the midfielder but remained coy on any transfer activity.
“Declan Rice is a good player," the Chelsea boss said. "I’ve known him for a long time, he was in Chelsea’s academy, but there’s no talk.
"I will keep saying that about every player until these games and this season are finished. There’s nothing to say.”
In June it was reported that Chelsea were confident of securing a £45m move for Rice in the summer, with the England international to be utilised at the centre of a three man defence.
West Ham will likely slap a huge price tag on their prized asset. Rice still has four years remaining on his deal at the London Stadium, but should the Hammers suffer the drop, they may be forced to sell in an attempt to balance the books.
Thursday's 3-2 victory was vital in their bid to avoid relegation, but the Hammers are still just three points above the bottom three.
Source : 90min