Great Britain

Chelsea's interest in Declan Rice likely to end with Lampard departure

West Ham’s hopes of holding on to Declan Rice have been boosted by Frank Lampard’s departure from Chelsea.

The likelihood of Chelsea maintaining their interest in Rice is understood to be slim following the sacking of Lampard, who was the main driver behind last summer’s pursuit of the 22-year-old. Other figures inside Stamford Bridge were not as keen on a reunion with the highly rated midfielder.

Chelsea had spent £220m on seven signings during the last transfer window and told Lampard, who is set to be replaced by Thomas Tuchel, that he needed to raise funds through sales before attempting to buy Rice. Although he was unable to do so, Lampard kept the England international high on his list of targets and would have pushed for him again at the end of this season.

Rice was released by Chelsea at the age of 14 and has gone on to become a crucial player for West Ham, captaining David Moyes’s side this season in Mark Noble’s absence. Lampard was a huge fan of the England international and believed that he could strengthen his midfield. The former Chelsea manager was prepared to sell a host of players to finance a push for Rice.

However, Chelsea kept outcasts such as Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Antonio Rüdiger and Marcos Alonso, and those players could now get a second chance under Tuchel, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager.

West Ham remain determined to keep Rice, who is expected to be part of England’s squad at the European Championship, and intend to fend off suitors by demanding at least £80m. It is thought Chelsea were reluctant to pay that to re-acquire a former academy player.

Lampard’s sacking could be a blow for Rice, who is best friends with Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount. There have been suggestions, however, that Liverpool could consider a summer move for Rice as they attempt to refresh their squad.

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