Declan Rice stayed put at West Ham in the end this summer – but Chelsea are still expected to revive their pursuit next year.
Frank Lampard is a big fan of the former Blues academy talent, who was let go as a teenager before he rose up through the ranks at West Ham.
Under David Moyes, Rice has taken the captain’s armband when Mark Noble has not been in the team.
And the 21-year-old has forced his way into not only Gareth Southgate’s England squad but his starting XI.
Rice has a huge career ahead of him, and West Ham will face a battle to keep him every time the window opens if he continues to progress.
Having begun as a centre-half, he has made the holding midfield role his own at the London Stadium and for the Three Lions.
Rice’s consistent performances for West Ham in the Premier League made him one of Lampard’s key targets for the summer.
However, while Chelsea enjoyed a free-spending few months as they strengthened their squad significantly despite the financial effects on clubs from the Covid-19 pandemic, they did not bid for Rice.
West Ham maintained they did not want to sell their star midfielder and fan favourite, putting an £80m price-tag on him.
Chelsea prioritised other business ahead of moving for Rice, landing a winger, a striker, a left-back, central defenders and goalkeeper first.
Once Edouard Mendy was brought in from Rennes, the Blues’ last key target was Rice, yet they did not make an offer to the Hammers in the final fortnight of the window.
West Ham fans are delighted the 11pm deadline passed on Monday night with Rice remaining their player.
And Football London points the lack of a bid to test their resolve down to Chelsea’s inability to offload unwanted members of the squad.
Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri all stayed at Stamford Bridge despite efforts to move them on and make space in the side, while also ideally helping to raise funds.
Italy midfielder Jorginho has figured regularly in the team early this season, but Rice would have replaced him in the XI and Lampard was prepared to let the penalty-taker go.
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Looking forward, though, Chelsea are likely to come back in for Rice.
Football London say West Ham should expect more interest in their versatile ace, who Lampard could use in his backline or midfield.
While a January swoop is not necessarily on the cards, a fresh approach from Chelsea is anticipated next summer.
Rice will continue plying his trade at West Ham for the 2020/21 campaign, but a strong tournament at the delayed Euro 2020 ahead of next season will only intensify Chelsea’s interest.
West Ham will hope another great season and summer with England raises his value even more, but supporters know his ambitions may eventually be higher than the club’s under Davis Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady.
The Hammers spent £5m this summer on right-back Vladimir Coufal and Thomas Soucek’s loan was made permanent in a £15m deal, while Chelsea spent over £200m in a bid to make them true title contenders and a force in the Champions League.
Additionally, Rice has his ties to Chelsea having started there as a youngster, plus his family are all fans of the Blues.
The west Londoners could afford to offer him a bumper contract next year too, and while he is happy at West Ham for now, Rice may outgrow his current team before too long.
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