By Daniel Feliciano

23rd Nov, 2022 | 10:40am

Declan Rice could still join Chelsea from West Ham United even without Champions League football

Declan Rice could still be willing to join Chelsea from West Ham in the summer even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, says Simon Phillips.

Rice has been heavily linked with a move away from the London Stadium for several years, but Chelsea and Liverpool have increased their interest and want to bring him in this summer when he will have just two years remaining on his contract.

The Telegraph have suggested that the Hammers could be forced to sell for around £70m rather than the £150m they have publicly demanded, and Phillips told his Substack that he believes that to be true and shared what his top source has told him about Chelsea’s chances.

“The situation is clear. West Ham will finally listen to offers for Rice this summer, and they will not be able to demand £150m for him. I think something close to £90m would be more realistic, and Chelsea will negotiate for less,” he said.

“Chelsea and Liverpool are the two most serious clubs, and Chelsea see him as a priority for the summer. Other clubs such as Manchester City are also keen – Pep Guardiola really likes Rice.

“After speaking to my source, he reiterated that the Liverpool interest concerns him, as it does me. However, I think we just need to get Mason Mount’s contract situation sorted out and him extended, and then the Liverpool threat dies out in an instant.

“My top source is still in the belief that if given the option, Rice would choose Chelsea over any other club, and UCL football is not the be all and end all on any decision. He also says that a lot of teams are monitoring Rice.”

Surprising

We all know Rice is a Chelsea man deep down and with his best friend in Mason Mount at the club too, it’s no surprise that they are his favoured destination.

However if the opportunity to join a Champions League club appeared and Chelsea weren’t in the competition, then it would be quite hypocritical of him to move to Stamford Bridge.

Rice has been open and honest about his ambitions to play at the very highest level and challenge for trophies, which is exactly why West Ham fans have been sympathetic to his wishes to leave.

But if joins a club not playing at that level, then question marks will be asked about why he had to leave so soon. West Ham have played in the Europa League as recently as last season and it wasn’t enough for him.

Chelsea are obviously well equipped to be back in the conversation pretty soon and are far more likely that West Ham to be there, but given the choice, Rice should be aiming for the top and not just his favourites.