After an exceptional summer transfer window, perhaps the only blot on Chelsea‘s copybook was the failure to sign West Ham United‘s Declan Rice. However, manager Frank Lampard has stood firm in his desire to get Rice in the team, and Chelsea will make another move to sign him in January, according to The Athletic.
Chelsea Still in for Declan Rice
Another Versatile Young Englishman
With N’Golo Kante, one of the best in the world at his position, already at the base of the midfield, it seems strange that Chelsea would spend nearly £80 million (West Ham’s asking price) on Rice. However, the 21-year-old is much more than just a defensive midfielder.
Most importantly, Lampard’s long-term vision for Rice is at centre-back. With 36-year-old Thiago Silva only a short-term signing, the Blues are still missing a long-term starter at the heart of the defence.
Kurt Zouma is 26, but despite his fantastic start to the season, there still remain some doubts over his ability on the ball. Fikayo Tomori is 22, but his consistency has also been an issue in the past two seasons. Rice ticks both of these boxes.
He has played as a midfielder for many years, so naturally, his ability on the ball is second to none. He’s also the West Ham captain and has been a fixture in their starting lineup since he was 18, so there’s no doubting his consistency.
Factor in his friendship with several of the current Chelsea youngsters, most notably Mason Mount, and his signing seems like a no-brainer for Lampard.
A Leader at the Back
Ever since the departure of legendary centre-back John Terry, the Blues have been lacking a dominant leader at the heart of the defence. However, they didn’t really feel the extent of that issue until last season.
After Terry’s departure, Chelsea still had Gary Cahill to rely on, and after Cahill left David Luiz became the leader of the defence. While he may have been inconsistent at times, Luiz is a natural-born leader and his importance to Chelsea was often undervalued.
When Luiz joined Arsenal last year, the team had no real leader at the back. Lampard had to constantly shuffle his centre-backs in and out of the team, and couldn’t decide on any of them for a permanent starting spot. Of course, having Kepa Arrizabalaga behind them didn’t help either.
This year, with the additions of Silva and Edouard Mendy, Chelsea’s backline finally has some stability. However, Silva is 36, so realistically he will not be able to start regularly for more than two or three seasons. As good as he is, he’s a stopgap until Chelsea can find their next long-term leader.
Lampard’s convinced that this leader can be Rice, and he already seems to have earned club owner Roman Abramovich’s trust. Abramovich proved this summer that when he wants a player, he’s willing to go all out. Therefore, it’s very possible that if he does set his sights on Declan Rice, which reports are saying he has, the 21-year-old will be wearing a Chelsea kit on February 1st.