As per the report, Rice is now actively looking at his options to leave the Hammers next summer and Phillips claims that the talented player is likely to pick a return to Chelsea over any other interested club.
There is no doubt that snapping up reinforcements in midfield is becoming an urgent task for the Chelsea hierarchy as key players in the centre of the pitch are out of contract in the summer.
Both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are coming to the last six months of their contract and with the pair well into their 30s, it is not only unlikely that they will receive another contract offer but it is also an opportunity for the club to start reinventing themselves when it comes to midfield personnel.
Graham Potter will head into his first transfer window as the Chelsea manager just a few days after the Premier League resumes after Christmas, and there is no doubt that the former Brighton and Hove Albion boss will be keen to put his own mark on the team in both the winter and summer transfer window.
As a result, the opportunity to sign Rice could not come at a better time for the Blues and even if they have to wait until the end of the season to acquire his services it would be worth it.
The talented £150m-valued ace – who was dubbed a “force of nature” by journalist Rob Blanchette – ranks second for the most dribbles completed and pass interceptions in the opposition’s half in the entirety of the Premier League this season.
Over 15 league appearances, Rice has scored one goal, registered two assists, made 1.3 key passes a match and tallied up a hugely impressive 90% pass completion rate.
It’s in a defensive capacity, however, where he is truly one of the elite midfielders, averaging 1.6 interceptions, 2.4 tackles, 1.3 clearances and winning 4.2 duels per game, proving that he is a consistent and complete midfielder.
Rice has made it no secret that he is a huge fan of Chelsea. Indeed, he broke into their academy alongside Mason Mount after starting his career at Cobham but whilst Mount remained, the West Ham star was released at 14 years old.
The England midfielder has maintained a close relationship on and off the pitch with Mount as the pair are both key players in Gareth Southgate’s international set-up, so the familiarity and connection between the duo could cause chaos for opponents at Stamford Bridge.
With that being said, the signing of Rice would be monumental for Chelsea as they aim to inject some youth into the centre of the pitch and he could well be the player they need in order to climb back up the table.