David Moyes must put his foot down and reject a rumoured swap deal involving West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
According to the Express, Loftus-Cheek is one of three players the Stamford Bridge outfit may look to present in exchange for Rice’s signature this summer.
Frank Lampard’s sacking was expected to bring a halt to the Blues’ interest in taking Rice back to south west London, yet Thomas Tuchel has not scrubbed his predecessors’ plans.
But the German is prioritising the arrival of a new striker and has Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku under consideration, which would leave the Blues clutching at straws to fund a pursuit of Rice.
As such, Chelsea are tipped to potentially offer West Ham their choice of Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christiansen or Tammy Abraham in hopes of bringing down the Hammers’ asking price.
Rice’s services are bound to be highly sought-after among the Premier League’s established elite clubs this summer, after once again proving to be a key part of West Ham’s plans and further establishing himself on the international stage.
The 22-year-old was named as the Man of the Match during England’s recent World Cup qualifying wins over Albania and Poland, despite playing the closing stages of the latter tie with a lateral knee ligament injury.
Rice’s issue meant he missed West Ham’s wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City last week, the first Premier League games that the Irons’ vice-captain had sat out since May 2019 after 68 straight starts.
He already has interest from Manchester United as well, who could use Jesse Lingard to negotiate a lower fee, but reports by The Sun claim West Ham have no interest in selling one star to retain the one they have on loan.
Rival interest will also ensure the Hammers are not in a position where they must accept a downgrade to sell Rice to Chelsea – a player Moyes claims suitors would need “the Bank of England and the Royal Bank of Scotland” to sign.
Loftus-Cheek would certainly be a step down in quality for the Irons, and send out the wrong message to the rest of the squad and potential summer targets over their aspirations of sustaining this season’s remarkable challenge for European football.
The Chelsea man – who Gary Neville claims is “a massive talent” – has struggled to impress consistently this season while on loan with relegation-threatened Fulham, having offered just a single goal and no assists in 26 Premier League games for the Cottagers.
His defensive contributions pale into insignificance beside Rice’s, too, with Loftus-Cheek trailing for tackles (1.9 to 0.9), interceptions (2 to 0.2), fouls committed (0.7 to 1.1) and clearances (1.2 to 0.5) per game in the top-flight this term, per WhoScored.
If Rice is to leave West Ham at the end of the season, they need to be earning top-dollar to sign a ready-made replacement – not accepting discounted approaches for players that will stagnate their progress as a club.
AND in other news, West Ham eye 23-year-old talent once backed to become “world-class”…