Chelsea Must Not Overpay in Their Pursuit of Declan Rice

13 September 2020 04:30

Once goalkeeper Édouard Mendy completes his move to Chelsea, the Blues will be able to call the 2020 summer transfer window perfect.

All the major holes in the squad appear to have been filled, and now the Blues can turn their attention to making some minor tweaks. One position which has been suggested as Chelsea's weak link is defensive midfield.

Frank Lampard already has N'Golo Kanté - one of the world's finest - at his disposal, but behind him, things don't look so good. Jorginho is on the books at Stamford Bridge, but his ability as a defender has raised questions about his future.

The main candidate lined up to address this issue is West Ham United's Declan Rice, but the Englishman, who was once part of Chelsea's famous academy, doesn't really fit into the team right now, and definitely not enough to justify spending close to £80m on him.

Now, let's make this clear, Rice is a good footballer. He may be a little inconsistent and his showing in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Newcastle United won't be remembered fondly, but he's a talented 21-year-old with plenty of room to grow.

His ball-carrying skills have shown major improvement in the last few months, while his natural leadership and determination cannot be questioned. He's got the attributes to play for Chelsea.

However, next season, how would he fit into the team?

Talk of Lampard seeing Rice as a centre-back has died out recently, with the focus returning to Rice's ability in midfield, but it's hard to see the Englishman starting for Chelsea in that position, with Kanté and Mateo Kovačić surely ahead of him in the pecking order.

In a 4-2-3-1, Kanté and Kovačić will likely make up the base. A Kanté/Rice pivot is far too negative, and Kovačić/Rice seems a little risky given the latter's inconsistency.

In a 4-3-3, Rice could anchor the midfield with Kanté ahead of him, but that too seems negative - especially when Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kai Havertz and Ross Barkley are all fighting for minutes.

Kanté seems to be the guaranteed starter, meaning Rice would have to settle for sporadic appearances and cup competitions, with a consistent run of starts only coming if Kanté gets injured (again). Is that really worth spending £80m on?

Sure, that £80m spend would be a long-term investment in a player who could yet become the heir to John Terry's throne at Stamford Bridge, but doing so this summer seems a little pointless since he's not going to waltz into the team.

If Marina Granovskaia can work her magic and negotiate that price down considerably, then great, Chelsea should absolutely pursue this deal. The problem is that West Ham don't want to play ball.

There's a weird belief among a section of Chelsea fans that the rebuild needs to be 100% completed this summer. All deadwood must be shifted and the future must be sorted now.

Why?

With Rice, why not wait a year, when the time left on his contract will be shorter? West Ham might even get dragged into a relegation battle, and that might convince them to sell next summer for cheaper.

There's no denying that Chelsea need a new defensive midfielder and Rice would be a good solution, but an £80m spend makes no sense. Instead, if no discount is forthcoming, Lampard should look for a cheaper, short-term alternative, and reignite his pursuit of the West Ham man next summer,


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Source: 90min