Chelsea have been tipped to make a move for West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice if World Cup winner and two-time Premier League champion N’Golo Kanté leaves Stamford Bridge in the coming months.
Rice, who was previously at Chelsea from the age of seven until his release at 14, has long been linked with a move away from the Hammers since breaking into the first-team in east London.
It was initially rumoured last month that Chelsea are tracking their former academy player, with 90min also able to reveal at the time that Tottenham hold interest in the 21-year-old and could consider offering Eric Dier in part-exchange.
Now, the Daily Mirror suggests that Chelsea will make their approach for Rice if they ‘lose’ Kanté, considering the Hammers player a direct replacement.
Rice has previously been quoted by West Ham at a reported £100m, although it is unlikely the west London club would be willing to part with such a substantial fee, especially considering the financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
For the first time since arriving in England in 2015, Kante’s impact has started to wane. He didn’t thrive under the management of Maurizio Sarri last season, while the 29-year-old has also suffered from injuries this season that have caused him to miss more than a third of Chelsea’s games.
90min revealed last month that Chelsea, while still very happy with Kanté, would consider selling him at the end of the season if an acceptable offer is received.
Paris Saint-Germain would make a serious bid if they felt Kanté is available, while Real Madrid are eyeing the player as part of a French-focused recruitment plan being overseen by Zinedine Zidane, which also includes interest in Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé.
Whether Real would be able to fully pursue that transfer strategy in the current climate and the financial impact on football is another question. Kanté, however, would likely be the most affordable of the three and so remains a plausible option.
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