Chelsea identifies N’Golo Kante’s successor but faces a huge task with France international out of contract this season.
Declan Rice of West Ham is a midfielder that Chelsea are interested in, which suggests they may already have a plan in place for N’Golo Kante’s successor.
Kante hasn’t played since the middle of August due to a string of injuries in recent seasons.
Chelsea signed Kante from Leicester in 2016 just weeks after the player had helped Leicester stun the football world by winning the Premier League title.
During his debut season at Stamford Bridge, the France international went on to win the Premier League title.
He has also won the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup, and FA Cup during his stay in west London.
Kante has played 262 matches for the Blues – but his appearances are becoming more sporadic.
The 31-year-old was injured for almost a third of his team’s Premier League games last year. Additionally, he only made two appearances this season.
Kante’s contract expires at the end of the current campaign, and as a result of his fitness issues, he has lost some of his influence at Stamford Bridge.
Club executives will therefore look for a player to step into his shoes. And Rice seems to meet the criteria.
Rice was part of the Chelsea academy when he was a teenager but was released by the club and ended up heading to east London.
The Blues were tipped to take the England international back to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2021 after he had starred at Euro 2020. But he has since remained at the London Stadium.
According to 90Min, Rice is still at the top of Chelsea’s 2023 wanted list. Todd Boehly, who bought the Blues at the end of May, spoke to West Ham about the player in the summer but was told he wasn’t for sale.
And if he is to get a deal for Rice over the line, he will be forced to put his hand deep into his pocket.
Rice’s current contract could keep him at West Ham until 2025. And in the spring, Hammers boss David Moyes dismissed interest in the 23-year-old and insisted he was worth at least £150million.
“The first thing to say is that he is not for sale,” said the ex-Manchester United manager.
“If you are interested, well, it will be north of that (100m). One hundred was cheap last summer. One hundred and fifty just now would be the minimum but he is not for sale. What I do know is that it means there are only certain clubs that could even consider it.”