Chelsea are reportedly prepared to send Fikayo Tomori out on loan in order to make room for Declan Rice – and West Ham could be the ones to benefit.
Tomori has been one of the young, homegrown players to take their chance in the first team at Stamford Bridge this season. The defender spent last season on loan at Derby County, and followed Frank Lampard back to Chelsea last summer.
Despite settling in well earlier in the season, Tomori has not played a single minute since the Premier League resumed. And according to The Athletic, Chelsea are now considering sending him out on loan again so that his development does not stall.
It is claimed that Tomori could be used as bait in Chelsea’s efforts to sign Rice. The West Ham star is a target for the Blues, having previously been in their academy.
If Rice returns to Stamford Bridge, he could complete his transition from being a midfielder to a centre-back.
Lampard reportedly believes he could best fit Rice into his side’s defence. But that would further complicate Tomori’s chances of first-team football, a valuable prospect ahead of next summer’s European Championships.
Therefore, Chelsea are willing to send Tomori the other way to West Ham. The Blues believe regular football elsewhere would help the 22-year-old boost his often-criticised concentration levels.
Sending him to West Ham would help them in negotiations that could otherwise be tricky. The Hammers are holding out for a fee above £70m for Rice.
Hence, Chelsea could use Tomori as a makeweight to sweeten the deal. However, they still believe he has long-term prospects – as seen by the long-term contract extension they gave him in December – so will only allow a loan exit.
RICE THE DEFENSIVE REINFORCEMENT CHELSEA NEED?
Chelsea have already made some big moves ahead of next season. The Blues have signed Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to take their attack to the next level.
However, if they are to challenge among the very best, many feel that they need defensive reinforcements as well.
Of the top-half Premier League sides, only 10th-placed Burnley have conceded more goals in the this season. Therefore, Lampard is looking for a player to command their back line.
While Rice has been used mainly as a defensive midfielder by West Ham and England, he has dropped into defence on a couple of occasions – and it has been claimed that Lampard considers him the “vocal presence” he needs.