Chelsea are interested in signing West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, per Sky Sports News.
The Blues had the England international on their books when he was seven, though he was released when he was 14.
The 21-year-old is close friends with current Chelsea star Mason Mount, per the report, and the Blues are hoping to strengthen with a defensive midfielder whenever the summer transfer window opens, with Rice a target.
However, he signed a new contract in December of 2018 and is tied to the club until 2024.
The report states that West Ham have the option to extend the deal by a further year, and he is unlikely to come cheap.
Transfermarkt value him at £49.5m.
The Hammers are in a strong position, here.
Throughout the early 2000s, they routinely lost their best players; the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, and Joe Cole all flew the nest at the first sign of a bigger, and perhaps better, opportunity.
It was a recurring issue; as soon as a player began to deliver on their potential, they left and were in need of replacing.
Given Rice’s contractual situation, and the fact he remains a key member of the squad – making 100 appearances in total for the club – one has to believe that West Ham would be in a strong position were bids to arrive.
While every player has their price, as West Ham have found to their cost previously, the Irons do have the ability to wring every last penny out of Chelsea should they so wish.
And that could ultimately be the crux of any transfer saga, and define whether or not Rice remains in east London.
Indeed, Chelsea have paid through the nose for players before – think their £35m capture of Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City, or paying £50m for Liverpool’s. Fernando Torres – but they may well be loathe to do so again. Neither signing really worked out as they will have hoped.
It is one of the first times the Hammers have the high ground in such a situation; though that may well change should they end up relegated to the Championship.