Chelsea are one of the clubs chasing West Ham midfielder Declan Rice as the summer transfer window looms, and the England international has even been compared to Steven Gerrard.
Thomas Tuchel is set for a very busy summer as he looks to strengthen all areas of the pitch. But with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho entering the final year of their contracts, ensuring they are well supplied in midfield has become a growing priority.
Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour have returned from loan spells with Crystal Palace and Norwich respectively, but a new signing still looks likely. Rice has been a long-term target and Tuchel was quick to express his admiration for her last season.
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“He seems like a very nice guy from what everyone tells me and he comes from the Chelsea academy and he proves it. [his quality]”, Tuchel said in a press conference earlier this year. “That’s the most important thing. I feel like he plays every game.”
But the German also admitted that due to the sanctions imposed on then-owner Roman Abramovich such speculation was pointless: “Maybe they [players as expensive as Rice] are even out of our league if we don’t have our crisis when you hear the numbers going around.
“But as you know we don’t talk about the other players when it comes to whether we’re interested or not because we take care of the guys we have here. Our situation gives me a slight advantage that we can’t. not even think about buying or selling, so there is no need to think about it.
Rice won’t come cheap if Chelsea want to sign him and new owner Todd Boehly may have to shell out £150m for his signature, as per the Hammers’ latest demands. Rice started again for England on Saturday afternoon in their Nations League clash with Hungary, and Michael Owen compared his ability to that of Steven Gerrard.
“I think that midfield role is very disciplined, I played with one of the best in Steven Gerrard but he was too good to sit there and be disciplined,” Owen said on the cover of the clash by Channel 4. “He’s showing signs of a Steven Gerrard, a big powerful, long and very good passer, he’s breaking up the game so well now that he’s just adding those long uphill runs.”