Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is expected to revive the pursuit of West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice when the summer transfer window opens.
Rice was towards the top of former boss Frank Lampard’s wish list, but club officials were reluctant to shell out £70m on a player who they released from their academy in 2014 after spending so much on Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy.
With Lampard leaving in January, it was thought that Chelsea‘s pursuit of Rice would be over. But theTelegraph state that Tuchel has become a huge fan of the England international and is expected to request his signing this summer.
Whether Chelsea will back Tuchel remains to be seen. They did not want to pay £70m last summer, and West Ham are now thought to have upped their asking price to closer to £90m after emerging as genuine threats to the top four.
£90m would almost certainly price the Blues out of a move, particularly given their top priority is to sign an expensive striker like Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland or Inter’s Romelu Lukaku, but they could look to drive his price down by offering up some players in exchange.
Striker Tammy Abraham, whom Hammers boss David Moyes has confessed is too expensive at £40m, could be included in a deal for Rice, as could midfielder Ross Barkley, who will return from his loan with Aston Villa this summer.
Moyes is known to like both players, and although he is reluctant to part ways with Rice, the chance to improve in two positions and still bring in a hefty sum of money may be too good to turn down.
Fortunately for Chelsea’s chiefs, Tuchel is well aware that the cost of such a deal could be far too high and he has also added two cheaper options to his wish list if Rice is unattainable.
Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni, who recently beat Rennes Eduardo Camavinga to the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award, is on the radar, as is Benfica’s Julien Weigl, who Tuchel knows well from their time together at Dortmund.