Graham Potter target ‘perfect’ for Chelsea more likely than England team-mate to make summer switch

Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice and Michail Antonio

Chelsea are more likely to sign West Ham star Declan Rice than Jude Bellingham in the summer transfer window, according to a report on Friday.

Rice, 23, has become one of the most sought-after players in the Premier League due to his form for the Hammers. He is the first name on the team sheet and has made 210 appearances in all competitions for the East End outfit. Playing a deep-lying role as a screen in front of the defence, scoring goals is a bonus.

But the Kingston upon Thames-born ace has managed to chip in with 11 during his time at the London Stadium.

The talented schemer is also Gareth Southgate’s go-to man in midfield for England. He has earned 34 caps and was outstanding as the Three Lions reached the final of Euro 2020.

Inevitably there have been rumours of a move away from West Ham.

A player of Rice’s undoubted ability wants to play in the Champions League. And a few of the Premier League big-hitters have been linked.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have all been mentioned in connection with Rice.

The Blues are also thought to hold and interest in Borussia Dortmund’s Bellingham.

But journalist Dean Jones feels the Hammers star is the one they really want on board.

“Midfield is perhaps the most intriguing area of the field as there has been plenty of speculation around a pursuit of Bellingham and Rice,” he told GiveMeSport.

“Of the two, I am told that Rice is the more likely option.

“The groundwork has been laid, they know he is open to a return, he is considering leaving West Ham at the end of the season. And he is perfect for how the side set about the future.”

Rice to replace key Chelsea star

Chelsea have enjoyed a decent run of form since Graham Potter replaced Thomas Tuchel at the helm.

The 47-year-old has guided his charges to three wins and a draw in the league since arriving on September 8.

They have also won two and drawn one in the Champions League to sit top of Group E with two games remaining.

And the west Londoners have been without midfield maestro N’Golo Kante.

The France international has made only two top-flight appearances due to a leg muscle injury. He will not be back until mid November and doubts over his future remain.

The former Leicester City ace will be out of contract at the end of the season. And, with Chelsea seemingly unwilling to match his wage demands, an exit appears likely.

Jones  is adamant the Stamford Bridge outfit will prioritise Rice as his replacement. And their pursuit of Bellingham is likely to be hamstrung by another high-profile suitor.

“Rice, who is valued at £150m, is also a more likely option than Bellingham because Real Madrid are working to convince him to choose them as his next step from Borussia Dortmund,” he added.

“At this moment it seems that plan is working.

“Rice is a top target but not one for January. Denis Zakaria could have his loan deal cut short this season though and that would open to door for Chelsea to make a signing.”

Chelsea are clearly looking to move on under Todd Boehly. They have spent big to bring a number of class players to the club.

But it may be that the biggest outlay is yet to come if they want to lure Rice to the Bridge.

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