Chelsea: Lampard opens up on January transfer plans
A potential move to Chelsea for West Ham United’s Declan Rice could once again be a hot topic of conversation during this month’s mid-season transfer window. Rice, who was on the club’s books as a youngster, was tipped for a return to Stamford Bridge during the summer but a move ultimately failed to come to fruition.
Chelsea did not submit any formal offers for the 21-year-old during pre-season after West Ham placed an £80million price tag on their star man.
However, the Blues are said to retain a keen interest in signing Rice and could launch an attempt to land his signature before the end of January.
Talksport transfer expert Alex Crook believes that while Frank Lampard’s side would benefit from the midfielder’s arrival, an approach may not be possible unless a number of fringe players are shifted in order to free up resources.
“One player Frank Lampard believes would massively improve his Chelsea team is Declan Rice,” said Crook.
“West Ham were surprised that Chelsea didn’t make a formal bid in the summer and they’re bracing themselves for that to happen, either now or at the end of the season.”
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Crook continued, claiming that the Blues could be looking to sell four non-starters before turning their attention to Rice.
“Before Chelsea can make their move for Declan Rice, who is their number one target, pretty much their only target – they need to get players off the books,” he added.
“Danny Drinkwater, Fikayo Tomori, Marcos Alonso – three big names that they want to sell. Willy Caballero, too, isn’t particularly happy with his place in the goalkeeping pecking order.”
Tomori, who earned an international debut for England last season, has only played once in the Premier League this time around.
Leeds United are rumoured to be keen on bringing the 23-year-old to Elland Road this month, with Marcelo Bielsa eager to solve his side’s defensive problems.
Caballero has seen his opportunities limited between the sticks following the arrival of Edouard Mendy, while Alonso has also been tipped to depart.
Meanwhile, frozen-out midfielder Danny Drinkwater’s future with the Blues seems to be all but over.
Lampard hinted on Friday that the club could be forced into selling players before a move for Rice can be sanctioned.
“I have ideas,” he told reporters when quizzed on his plans for the transfer window. “We have a big squad and we have to see if that changes, if there are opportunities for players that aren’t playing so much.
“That’ll be a conversation between the player and myself and then we’ll see if we can strengthen in the right way. But we’re not jumping up and down to do so at the moment, my focus this year is purely on work. It’s a long month.”
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