By Sam Stone

16th Mar, 2023 | 12:30pm

Chelsea view Declan Rice as 'top' midfield candidate, 'good chance' of West Ham United exit

Declan Rice is now a “top candidate” to strengthen the Chelsea midfield as the 24-year-old’s West Ham United future remains in doubt, according to Sky Sports journalist Florian Plettenberg.

According to The Times (28 February), Rice could cost around £80million in the summer transfer window and it was believed Arsenal were showing the most interest.

However, Plettenberg has since revealed (via Twitter, 16 March) that Chelsea are “definitely” in the race for the Hammers’ skipper.

“News on Rice: Chelsea is definitely in the race and highly interested – confirmed. He’s one of the top candidates in order to strengthen the defensive midfield. Contract until 2024. Therefore a good chance of signing him this summer,” he wrote.

Cash in

As soon as the summer window opens West Ham are likely to be inundated with big offers for Rice. There were murmurings of him leaving in the summer of 2022 but it feels as if his departure is more likely this time around. Due to the length of his contract, there’s a chance the board will be able to get somewhere near his value.

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Although, it would be intriguing to see how they would handle Rice’s situation if they dropped into the Championship. Despite his performances being disappointing of late, the 24-year-old is far too good to be playing in England’s second tier.

Chelsea’s renewed interest in the midfielder comes as no surprise. He was on the books at Stamford Bridge as a youngster and considering their immense spending power, there’s a strong chance the West Londoners will be able to stump up the fee West Ham are looking for.

As for David Moyes, securing the club’s Premier League status and then casting an eye to the summer will be his priority.