Frank Lampard was prepared to sign Arsenal star as alternative to Declan Rice

Frank Lampard remains intent on signing a new defensive midfielder, despite N’Golo Kante’s return to form this season.

The Chelsea manager spent in excess of £200million over the course of the summer and the majority of his new recruits have made an instant impact at Stamford Bridge with the Blues just two points adrift of Premier League leaders Spurs, and already through to the knockout stages of the Champions League ahead of tonight’s game against Sevilla.

Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy have all helped improve Chelsea’s defensive record, while Timo Wener and Hakim Ziyech have hit the ground running at the other end of the pitch.

Kante, meanwhile, has regained full fitness and reestablished himself as a key cog in Lampard’s well oiled machine, but given his age, he will turn 30 in March, the Chelsea manager is aware of the need to look to the future.

West Ham’s Declan Rice remains his No.1 target but the England international’s £80million valuation prevented a deal from getting done last summer.

According to the Daily Telegraph, aware of the need to strengthen in that department, Lampard was prepared to sign Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid at nearly half the price.

Lampard, however, was beaten to the punch by Arsenal, who activated the Ghana international’s release clause on deadline day.

Following that setback, Lampard will focus his attention squarely on recruiting Rice, be it in January or the summer, and the success of Chilwell, in particular, could aid his cause.

The Telegraph reports that some members of the Chelsea hierarchy felt £50m was too much to pay for the England full-back but his early performances have rendered that deal value for money and Lampard feels the same is likely to apply to Rice.

Speaking about his future last week, the 21-year-old admitted he was happy at West Ham but he was in a rush to add silverware to his burgeoning reputation.

He said: ‘As a footballer you only get one career and it goes by very quick. You want to be successful for club and country. I think it’s an important thing to win trophies.

‘There’s talk of Harry Kane at Spurs and what he should be doing, obviously he can do whatever he wants. He’s going to win trophies we all know that. ‘

I think that’s something I want to aim for as well. I’m only 21 but to get those highs of your career you need to win stuff and that’s what I want to do.’

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