Chelsea were expected to haggle with their Premier League rivals over their £80m valuation of Rice, but the Hammers are now reportedly not willing to sell the England midfielder
Chelsea may have to consider transfer alternatives to Declan Rice this summer after West Ham’s stance on the midfielder emerged.
Rice is believed to be Frank Lampard’s next top target once Chelsea have completed the signing of goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy from Rennes.
The Stamford Bridge have already spent more than £200million this summer on attacking midfielder Kai Havertz, striker Timo Werner, winger Hakim Ziyech and left-back Ben Chilwell.
Mendy is expected to sign for Lampard’s side in an £18m deal, while centre-halves Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr joined on free transfers.
Rice was expected to be next, with Lampard keen on the former Chelsea youngster’s versatility, as the 21-year-old can play both at the base of midfield or as a centre-back.
It was always believed that West Ham would play hardball over the England international, with Chelsea hopeful of haggling down the Hammers’ £80m price tag.
But Lampard will now have to change his plans, as Rice is not for sale at any price, according to The Athletic.
One holding midfield option who would be popular with fans is Wilfred Ndidi, who was one of Leicester’s most impressive players as they narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification last season.
The 23-year-old Nigerian international has been a consistent performer since joining the Foxes in 2017, with his tall, physical stature making it difficult for opponents to get the better of him.
Alternatively, having already signed Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen and Werner from RB Leipzig, Lampard could raid the Bundesliga again to swoop for Denis Zakaria.
The Swiss international, 23, has starred for Borussia Mönchengladbach and can play either as a defensive midfielder or a centre mid.
Zakaria looks ready-made for the Premier League as he is tall, strong and technically adept, and like Ndidi would likely cost around £40m.
Ndidi has also reportedly been on the radar of Manchester United and Tottenham, and could be available for around £40m.
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Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would add experience to Chelsea’s midfield, having made more than 160 appearances in Serie A.
The 25-year-old, who has also been linked with United in the past, would cost more than Ndidi at around £60m, and would similarly offer a powerful presence to protect Chelsea’s back four.
Another option could be Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who has been linked with Chelsea in the past.
The Croatian midfielder, 27, was a standout performer for the Nerazzurri last season and played an integral role in country’s run to the 2018 World Cup final.
Brozovic is valued at around £45m, and with Inter boss Antonio Conte keen on a reunion with Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, he could be available as part of a swap deal.
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