Tomas Soucek is showing West Ham United why they can live without Declan Rice amid reports Chelsea will revive their efforts to sign the England international in January.
According to Football Insider, Chelsea are keen to revisit their failed summer pursuit of Rice with a mega-money offer for the Hammers’ prize asset once the transfer market reopens this winter.
The Blues had strived to sign Rice during the recent window, having considered the 21-year-old as a potential key part of Frank Lampard’s squad, but refused to match West Ham’s mammoth £80m asking price and settled for starting the season without a new holding midfielder.
But Lampard’s interest is yet to waver as he feels Rice’s versatility and pedigree will be a welcome asset in south west London, leaving the Irons braced for a revised approached in January after various methods of payment were discussed this summer.
West Ham are publicly opposed to selling Rice but have given Chelsea a few indications they would listen to offers for a vital aspect of David Moyes’ plans, having been one of just three outfield Irons players to have played all 720 minutes of Premier League football this term.
The Stamford Bridge natives will first need to offload two high-ticket players when the window opens, however, having spent £224.9m on transfers already this season in an eye-watering pursuit of strengthening Lampard’s ranks.
Chelsea’s financial situation has opened their ears to offers for a handful of their senior players, including Jorginho, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso after failing to offload their lucrative £110,000, £100,000, and £100,000-per-week respective contracts this summer.
It remains to be seen if Chelsea are able to raise enough funds in January to match West Ham’s asking price, or if the Hammers show a readiness to lessen their demands.
While West Ham would be expected to demand a vastly lucrative fee in order to sell Rice to Chelsea, Moyes can take some relief in the form of Soucek when considering a post-Rice future at the London Stadium.
Since the Irons made Soucek’s initial loan deal permanent for £19.1m this summer, the Czech Republic international has flourished with the highest number of successful tackles by any West Ham player (16) and most aerial duels won (48), the second-most blocked shots (4) and shots taken (18), third-most interceptions (11) and passes blocked (8), and fourth-most clearances (18), per WhoScored.
Rice, meanwhile, ranks third for blocked shots (3), fourth for successful tackles (14), fifth for passes blocked (7), seventh for aerial duels won (9), clearances (9) and is eleventh for shots taken (2), but is first for interceptions (20).
Soucek’s performances have also led to praise from Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho, who noted after last month’s London Derby how the 25-year-old was appearing similar to a former favourite of both himself and Moyes.
“I told them to be aware of set-pieces against, which we knew they were very strong,” he told Sky Sports, via quotes by Goal. “David found in Soucek his new [Marouane] Fellaini.”
Rice is still developing, of course, with England boss Gareth Southgate lauding the 21-year-old for the progress seen via quotes by the official West Ham website: “He has huge potential and the reason he has that potential is because he has a great mentality and desire to keep improving. He has other good examples among the senior players here. He knows the ones to follow and that is a good start.
“To have the additional responsibility of [West Ham] captaincy is brilliant and tells you also a bit about him as a person. For someone that young to be given the captaincy tells you the maturity he has, the responsibility he takes.”