West Ham United’s ownership of David Gold and David Sullivan deserve respect for their laudable decision not to sell Declan Rice to Chelsea this summer.
According to Football.London, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard had identified Rice as a top target to solve his defensive midfield conundrum on the back of 29-year-old N’Golo Kante enduring an injury-troubled season last term.
The Blues could have looked to young charger Ethan Ampadu to replace the Frenchman but opted to send him out on loan to Sheffield United for the season, and instead attempted to court Rice away from the London Stadium and back to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are not believed to have lodged a formal bid to sign the 21-year-old England international, having been made aware that West Ham would not entertain the idea of negotiating a lower price for the Irons’ star man with supporters already up in arms over the club’s transfer activity.
Lampard’s south west London natives also had difficulties offloading some of their fringe players to raise the funds needed to meet West Ham’s asking price, and could now wait until next summer to test their hand once more.
It is expected that Rice will remain high on the shopping list drawn up at Stamford Bridge over the next year if his performances and form continue on the same trajectory.
While the summer was fraught with failed attempts to bring players to the London Stadium, with bids occasionally well below a club’s asking price like Burnley’s £50million demand for James Tarkowski, Gold and Sullivan deserve respect for their decision to keep Rice.
GSB could easily have opted to use Rice as their cash-cow and put to good use the multiple millions of pounds Chelsea would still have been asked to hand over, but instead decided not to sell one of their brightest stars to plug gaps elsewhere.
The decision could come back to haunt Gold and Sullivan if David Moyes is not greeted with new faces from the English Football League in the coming week, and goes on to suffer issues up and down the spine of his side over the campaign – but for now he will be glad to have Rice to hand.
Rice has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of West Ham’s last 42 Premier League games and only failed to feature four times in the Irons’ last 88 top-flight encounters, dating back to March 2018.
Over his 38 top-flight outings last term, Rice also ranked second for interceptions (2.0) and third for successful tackles (3.1) per 90 minutes of those who featured for West Ham on more than five occasions, per WhoScored, and is currently on 2.3 for tackles and 49 passes.