Chelsea set sights on West Ham United talisman

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It's set to be a big summer for Chelsea.

Frank Lampard has enjoyed a decent first season in charge of the West London side with the Blues firmly on track to secure a top four finish.

If that is secured, it will be a massive boost to a side who have aspirations of challenging for the Premier League title.

The summer transfer window is likely to be a huge focus for Chelsea after enduring their recent transfer ban, and while Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner have already been signed, there's likely to be more additions.

Bolstering the defence is bound to be a huge focus, and that has led them back to the door of a familiar face.

According to The Athletic, Chelsea are prioritising a deal for Declan Rice.

Valued at £44.5m by Transfermarkt, the 21-year-old has been a revelation since bursting onto the scene with West Ham United.

Rice famously started his youth career at Stamford Bridge before being released as a teenager - prompting the East London side to snap him up.

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However it seems that a return to his boyhood club could be on the cards for Rice, who according to the report, is being tipped as a long-term option at the heart of Frank Lampard's defence.

Written in the Athletic, it says: "The Athletic wrote a piece recently about centre-halves Chelsea could consider buying to improve things at the back next season.

"Some respected figures across Europe were mentioned including Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng, but it is understood one of the main names actually being discussed is Rice.

"There is a lot of suspicion and disbelief whenever Rice’s name is linked with a big-money move to Stamford Bridge.

"But club sources remain adamant, despite what Lampard said publicly, that he is being considered."

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GIVEMESPORT'S Phil Spencer says...

What a deal this would be.

Declan Rice has established himself as the talisman for West Ham United - an impressive achievement given his tender age.

But with the Hammers struggling to stay in the Premier League, it could be a big battle to keep him at the London Stadium.

Chelsea is a club that's close to Declan Rice's heart, and so the interest from boyhood club Chelsea is bound to be appealing.

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Frank Lampard knows the England international well, and so he could play a huge role in bringing him back to the club.

Declan Rice would cost a significant fee - likely to be upwards of £60million at least - and it remains to be seen whether Chelsea could fund such a deal given the business that they've already completed.

That said, a move for Rice would be an excellent long-term investment and so if they want to get a deal done then I'm sure they'll find a way.

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