Rice Back on the Menu

West Ham’s Declan Rice will once again be a transfer target for Frank Lampard in January according to Sports Illustrated. Chelsea were interested in Rice in the summer window, however a deal never eventuated.

Back in July, it was reported that West Ham were seeking £70 million for the 21 year-old Englishman. Chelsea instead chose to spend big on likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech. Now, with the team playing well and aiming for genuine Premier League success, Lampard is willing to move some fringe players to make the Rice move possible.

Antonio Rüdiger – who has already expressed his desire to leave Chelsea – and Kepa Arrizabalaga are the two names believed to be for sale. Rüdiger has fallen out of favour at Chelsea, with Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma becoming the first choice centre back pairing. Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori have been the preferred options off the bench, ahead of Rüdiger. While Edouard Mendy has well and truly taken Kepa’s spot between the posts.

An on pitch leader already. Rice gets the West Ham armband when Mark Noble isn’t playing. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: THE TIMES

Where Rice Fits

Rice could fit in to a few roles at Chelsea. The most obvious – and perhaps most natural – role would be the defensive midfielder position currently filled by N’Golo Kanté. He could also go in alongside Kanté in place of Jorginho in the centre of the park. There is the possibility of him slotting in at centre back too, though with the centre back depth Chelsea have, that might only be an emergency option.

At West Ham this season, Rice has only featured in the midfield. Playing as a key interceptor in defence. The Hammers currently sit eighth in the Premier League having conceded just 14 goals. Showing, Rice’s screening has largely been successful.

Signing Rice would shuffle some of the players down the selection order. Matteo Kovačić would be safe, because his dribbling and movement offers a point of difference to the more defensive players. However, Billy Gilmour and possibly Jorginho might suffer. Gilmour recently made his return from injury against Krasnodar and acquitted himself well. Jorginho has also been playing well, though he has had to share his starts with Kovačić.

That Rice will only be 22 by January makes him a desirable prospect. He has shown that he can play very well in the Premier League, and will continue to get better. The only apprehension is what will happen to Gilmour. He is too good to just let go.

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