West Ham United manager Declan Rice has brushed off rumours that the midfielder could be sold this month.
Chelsea have been following Rice since last summer and are believed to have made the 22-year-old their top transfer target, while Manchester United have recently been tipped to reignite their interest in Rice to bolster both their defence and midfield.
After his side’s 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday, Moyes was asked whether there was any truth to the rumours that Rice could be on his way out of the club, but the boss wasted little time in shooting the story down.
“They’re not true, we’ve had no contact from either of those clubs regarding Declan and we wouldn’t want any anyway,” Moyes told Amazon Prime (as quoted by the Daily Mail). “He’s doing great for us, he’s a big leader now, he’s taken a lot of the weight off Mark Noble.
“He’s turning out to be a really good player but also a really good boy and good around the club.”
Moyes’ comments don’t really come as much surprise. Both Chelsea and United would prefer to wait until the end of the season to do a deal of this magnitude. West Ham are thought to want £80m to part ways with their midfielder, and that price may be even higher at this point in the season.
However, West Ham can expect some contact at the end of the season. Chelsea are widely expected to try and lure their former academy youngster back to Stamford Bridge, although they need to offload a handful of fringe players to raise enough money to make a deal viable.
Given Rice’s close ties with the club, Chelsea are thought to be his favoured destination, but the Blues need to free up space in their squad – something they failed to do in the summer – before they can even humour a blockbuster move for Rice.
There’s a long list of players who could be sold to raise funds. Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Antonio Rudiger, Fikayo Tomori and Kepa Arrizabalaga are all facing uncertain futures at Stamford Bridge, but selling them has proven to be easier said than done.
If Chelsea cannot raise the money, a move for Rice could well be impossible, and that may open the door for United to swoop in and get a deal done.