Declan Rice to Chelsea: transfer state of play, £70m price tag and why West Ham won’t sell

It is a transfer rumour that despite all the nay-saying from the other side of London that simply won’t go away – Declan Rice returning to Chelsea.

In the absence of much else going on transfer wise for the Blues aside from Fikayo Tomori’s potential departure and maybe another outgoing or two, a lot of the focus is once again on Rice.

The Blues have been linked with a big-money swoop for the West Ham midfielder for nearly 18 months now after Rice broke through into the Hammers first team and has already racked up more than 100 Premier League appearances.

It’s not exactly a secret that Chelsea let Rice go as a 14-year-old, where he was scooped up by West Ham and has gone on to perhaps make Chelsea regret their decision to release the midfielder, who started out as a centre back when in the setup at Cobham.

Not that Frank Lampard necessarily agrees, saying last month: “’He’s a fantastic player for West Ham and England.”

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“Fair play. It’s a good story because there are a lot of those stories. It shows a strength of character but I wouldn’t say it’s a regret.

“Our academy is one of the best in the world and it’s not easy because it’s not an exact science. Declan deserves personal credit for the start he has had at West Ham.”

That has not stopped the rumour mill continuing to link Rice with a return to west London. The latest twist in the tale is that those close to Rice have reportedly said that he would prefer to stay in London and that has ruled out a move to Manchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were briefly linked with Rice last summer but that has died down a bit as Chelsea have seemingly taken the lead in the race to sign him.

Not that it matters to West Ham. Football.London understands that the club simply have no intention of selling their prized asset, especially in January, as David Moyes looks to…