Football agent Rob Sagal has offered his thoughts on the future of West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, amid reported interest from his former club, Chelsea.
The Lowdown: A Star Emerging
The England international has emerged as one of the most sought after individuals in world football, with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and the Blues all reportedly eyeing up a move for the Hammers star.
The last 18 months or so have been particularly impressive for the £67.5m-rated midfielder – who has been dubbed “world-class” by West Ham’s former head of recruitment, David Hunt – with the 23-year-old helping David Moyes’ side secure Europa League football last term, while he also featured in all seven games of the Three Lions’ run to the final at Euro 2020 last summer.
With the captain’s armband in tow, the £62k-per-week sensation has again been integral for the east London side this season as they chase a possible top-four spot and European glory, making 38 appearances across all competitions.
The Latest: Agent’s Verdict
While Rice has long been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge – where he was part of the club’s youth team until his release at the age of 14 – according to Sagal, in his Caught Offside column, Thomas Tuchel and co may well have seen their hopes of making a move this summer dashed, owing to their current financial situation.
The super-agent suggested that it was previously the ‘worst kept secret in the industry’ that the 27-cap international would be moving to west London in the upcoming window, although the player is now ‘snookered’ due to the change of situation at Chelsea.
‘But going back to Chelsea and any potential transfer business they may look to do. I think Declan Rice is slightly snookered now. He was going to go back to Chelsea – that was the worst kept secret in the industry but Chelsea isn’t in the same position now, obviously,’ he wrote.
‘Rice still has a good while left on his contract, two years with West Ham having an option for another, so he is in a bit of a tricky spot now.’
Although a sale may yet be completed in the coming weeks to end the current turbulence, it remains to be seen just what the financial power of the prospective owners will be, with recent reports suggesting that the club may even have to sell a number of players in order to balance the books, hence the doubt surrounding a move for the West Ham colossus – who still has two years remaining on his existing deal, with the option of a further 12 months.
The Verdict: Put Faith in Gallagher
That news will likely come as a major blow to Blues supporters, with the Englishman – who has drawn comparisons to Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard from Joe Cole – having seemingly been a long-term target for the club, stretching back to Frank Lampard’s time in charge.
All is not lost, however, with Tuchel already having the perfect player on his books to strengthen in midfield, with current Crystal Palace loanee Conor Gallagher set to return to his parent club this summer after a stellar campaign at Selhurst Park.
The 22-year-old – who was recently named man of the match on his first senior international start against Switzerland – has netted eight times already in the Premier League this season, offering an attacking thrust that his compatriot Rice – who has scored just one league goal – simply cannot match.
Dubbed “like Kante with goals” by talkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino, Gallagher offers a hard-working and energetic presence in midfield to add to his quality in front of goal, with his return to Cobham likely to add increased competition to an already stellar midfield.
Equally, as per the Evening Standard, the Blues hierarchy are said to have been so ‘impressed’ by his displays for the Eagles that they may even ‘opt against’ a move for Rice anyway, with the club seemingly also seeing the benefit in saving the reported £150m it would take to prize their former youth player away from the London Stadium.
Failing to secure that deal could be seen as a missed opportunity, although perhaps it is now the time to put their faith in young Gallagher.