Merson raises questions of tactics and price if Chelsea complete Rice signing

Declan Rice

Paul Merson has backed Chelsea’s pursuit of Declan Rice, but does not know what would be a fair price for the West Ham star.

Rice has risen to prominence over the past few years with West Ham. Now, he has become a target for the club that released him at the age of 14 – Chelsea.

Frank Lampard wants to add a vocal presence to his defence. Even though Rice mainly plays as a midfielder, the Chelsea boss thinks he could fulfil his potential in a deeper role.

Former Arsenal midfielder Merson, though, thinks Rice would only be able to play as a centre-back if it was as part of a back three.

The pundit admits Rice is a “top class holding midfielder”, however, and understands why Chelsea want him.

“Declan Rice is going to have choices this summer and I can see why Chelsea want him,” Merson told the Daily Star.

“He has become a top class holding midfielder for his age. He’s so disciplined, and I think it’s up to him how far he goes in the game.

“There will be a lot of teams after him. In my day you had to have experience to play that position but he does it so well.

“West Ham will have to get the right price if they sell. But I can see why Frank Lampard wants him.

“If you’re playing three at the back he ticks the boxes. He’d be comfortable in the middle of a three.

“Since David Luiz left they’ve not had anybody who can play that role and be comfortable bringing the ball out.

“I don’t really see him in a four, but he could play just in front of a four if they need him to. I can see where Lampard’s coming from.

“It’s hard to know what his value is though. Everyone is waiting for that first big one to go in the transfer market and set the benchmark.”