Exclusive – West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice’s value could drop to around £50m ahead of the summer transfer window due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic – in a boost to four of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
The Blues set their sights on Rice last summer, but after splashing out in excess of £200m on the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, found themselves unable to lodge a bid which came anywhere close to the Hammers’ asking price, which was closer to £80m at the time.
Rice remains one of Chelsea‘s top transfer targets and they are expected to reignite their pursuit at the end of the season, but they will now have to deal with Rice’s father Sean, who took over the 22-year-old’s affairs towards the end of 2020.
Sean is now working closely with his son to plan out Declan’s next move, and sources have confirmed to 90min that he has received interest from a handful of other suitors who would be interested in signing Rice at a lower price.
With ticket sales and sponsorship money hitting new lows because of the COVID-19 outbreak, West Ham are expected to lower their demands and may even now settle for something closer to the £50m mark.
Those close to the situation now see it as a four-way battle between Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United; all of whom have expressed an interest in signing Rice for that kind of money.
The Rice family are now discussing all of the options on the table, and one of the factors under consideration is which position in the starting team he would be offered by any of the clubs he joins.
A centre-back in his youth, Rice has excelled as a defensive midfielder since his breakthrough to senior football in 2017, and it is understood that he hopes to remain in that position if he does choose to leave West Ham.
As it stands, Chelsea see Rice as a long-term answer to their problems at centre-back – a view shared by City – whereas fellow suitors United and Liverpool would prefer to keep him in a midfield role instead.
Fortunately for the Blues, Rice’s father, whom The Athletic notes is a season ticket holder at Stamford Bridge, has urged his son to keep an open mind about the situation and not commit himself to one position at this point in his career.
It’s believed that Rice is open to the idea of returning to his boyhood side, but his primary goal is to join a team capable of competing for regular silverware, and he is expected to have plenty of offers to choose between.