Dean Windass has exclusively shared with Football FanCast the one condition he expects will see West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice join Chelsea.
The England international has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge since breaking through at the London Stadium, with Frank Lampard believing Rice was the ideal man to help the Blues get back into the Premier League title race last summer.
But Chelsea gave up their efforts to sign Rice without lodging a bid as West Ham demanded at least £80m after making it clear that the 21-year-old is their prized asset, and they were tipped to present the £60,000-per-week talent with a double-your-money new contract as a reward for his commitment.
Yet, speculation of Rice leaving east London for the south west region of the capital has remained strong since the summer market closed, and Chelsea could now face competition from Manchester United in their pursuit of the midfield anchor.
However, Rice is not believed to be interested in a move to Old Trafford, and Windass has exclusively told FFC that he can see why Frank Lampard would like to sign Rice and that he believes the 13-cap star would leave West Ham and re-join his former academy side Chelsea if given the chance.
“I think the way that Frank wants to play [is with] a [Claude] Makelele sort of type, with that three in midfield with him sitting there,” he said.
“[Rice is a] young kid, [he] could probably go on and captain the club. He’s a potential captain if he doesn’t leave West Ham when Noble will step aside as he’s coming to the end of his career now,.Declan will probably be captain of West Ham if he doesn’t leave.
“But Frank, I see [him as] that type of player that Frank would like. Get the ball and we always say, it’s not being rude to players, but get the ball and give it to people who can play, break up the counter-attack and then give it to players who can play. So, Declan would fit Frank’s [system], I get that. Would he go in a heartbeat? Yes.”
Rice has started all 17 of West Ham’s Premier League fixtures so far this season, as one of only three players to have featured for all 1,530 available top-flight minutes under David Moyes to date.
His performances over those outings have been enough for the 21-year-old to rank among the division’s most-productive players for interceptions with 35 to his name, just four fewer than Chelsea’s best offering from N’Golo Kante (39) and one more than Manchester United’s Harry Maguire (34), per WhoScored.
Lampard would further stand to benefit from Rice’s aerial threat with his 23 duels won enough to rank him fourth when compared to the current squad in south west London, while his 14 key passes are enough to rank fourth in blue.
Yet it remains to be seen if Chelsea do match West Ham’s demands and sign Rice, or if the prospect of captaincy at The Hammers will be enough for David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady to retain their star man.