Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is ready to revive Chelsea’s interest in signing West Ham United and England midfielder Declan Rice.
That is according to a report by the Telegraph, who say Tuchel is ready to include Rice on a list of players he is ready to put to Blues transfer chief Marina Granovskaia.
The Blues qualified for next season’s UEFA Champions League on the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday afternoon, despite being beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa at Villa Park, meaning their hopes of signing Rice could be boosted by the fact they could offer him Champions League football.
Although it was a disappointing ending to their league campaign, it was enough to secure fourth place, meaning they will not have to win this season’s final against Manchester City on Saturday evening to be assured a spot in the competition next term.
But whatever happens on Saturday evening in Porto, Tuchel, who will be looking to land his first piece of silverware since becoming Chelsea boss towards the end of January, will want to put his own stamp of authority on the squad he inherited from his predecessor, Frank Lampard.
Adding a new striker to the ranks is poised to be a top priority for Tuchel, with Chelsea having struggled to call upon a consistent source of goals this season. Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland are just two names to have been heavily linked with summer moves to Stamford Bridge, but it remains to be seen if a deal for either of those is doable.
As well as looking to strengthen his attacking options, bolstering the centre-back department is also believed to be high up on the German’s to-do list. The likes of Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule and Frenchman Raphael Varane have been linked with moves to west London.
But now that Tuchel, reportedly, has rekindled Chelsea’s interest in Rice, could he be the man to strengthen the Blues’ defensive options even further?
At the time when Chelsea were interested in him last summer, as Lampard chased a deal for the England international, the intention was to bring him in and use him as a central defender.
However, that may not be possible if Tuchel has the same plan. That is because Rice has previously admitted that he sees himself more as a defensive midfielder and one that looks to drive forward.
Speaking to Sky Sports, as cited by the Metro, back in November, the West Ham captain said: “I’ve played midfield now for the last three seasons. I think people get carried away with kind of what they want me to do.
“My role is holding midfielder. There isn’t any flair in that. I can slot in at centre-half but I think I’ve got much more to give and I think my confidence is growing in midfield.
“I think the more I start to drive forward with the ball like I’ve been doing in recent games.
“I’ve watched the top players like Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure, every time they see a bit of space they drive into it, they look powerful, they look strong and I think as a holding midfielder that’s rare these days.
“If I can keep adding that into my game I can keep catching the eye.”
With Rice looking forwards in reference to the pitch, it seems unlikely that Tuchel would be able to convince him to join Chelsea this summer if he follows in Lampard’s footsteps and asks him to become a centre-back.
That could, potentially, make life difficult, as Chelsea are already well stocked in central midfield, with N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Billy Gilmour and Jorginho all available as options.
But if Rice were to be guaranteed a starting berth in midfield it could certainly help Tuchel’s chances of signing the Hammers ace, who is valued at around £90million.
That is because Chelsea could have an advantage over West Ham in Rice’s desire to start winning trophies.
“As a footballer you only get one career and it goes by very quick,” added Rice. “You want to be successful for club and country.
“I think it’s an important thing to win trophies.
“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.”
Source by Football London