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Chelsea readying opening salvo as Lingard stance to aid star capture

Reports claim Chelsea are preparing an opening bid for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice who may be ready to jump ship due to a lack of new signings at the London Stadium.

Rice, 22, was already a superstar of the English game before this summer’s European Championship. But his stock rose even higher after a stellar Euro 2020 showing, with commanding displays in the centre of the park. His partnership with Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips was the driving force behind the Three Lions’ march to the final.

Attention has now turned to domestic matters and the rumour mill is in overdrive. The Blues are known admirers of their former academy player.

The youngster was at the club between 2006 and 2014. And it is said he would ‘jump at the chance’ of returning to Stamford Bridge.

The finances involved may be prohibitive, with the Hammers thought to value their star at £100m. But the west Londoners hope to do business in the region of £60m – £70m.

And they will ‘test the water’ with an offer. Whether that has any chance of succeeding is open to debate as Rice still has three years left on his contract.

The Telegraph’s Matt Law suggested on Friday that the midfield enforcer would not extend his deal. And he feels that has implications about the fee West Ham can expect to receive.

He said (via CaughtOffside): “West Ham would have to have a serious think about any bid that came in over £60m because of the situation.”

Rice wanted Lingard back in East End

Jesse Lingard’s winter loan arrival sparked West Ham’s push for Europe. The 28-year-old was going nowhere with Manchester United and a move south saw him recapture his best form.

He bagged nine goals and four assists, helping David Moyes’s side qualify for the Europa League. It was thought he would be signed on permanent terms but, as yet, nothing has happened.

Rice is known to have enjoyed the England man in the side and wanted him back on permanent terms. Eurosport say West Ham are not close to signing the forward and Rice is becoming frustrated by a lack of new faces.

And that might prompt him to seek a new challenge across London, according to The Express. There is still time for Moyes to bring in reinforcements, with a European campaign on the horizon.

Rice is clearly ambitious and would have more chance of securing silverware with the European champions. His loyalty and the Hammers’ resolve could soon be tested.

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