Chelsea have identified England sensation Declan Rice as their top target, with Thomas Tuchel set to prioritise a new midfielder in the summer.

According to The Athletic, Chelsea are set to ramp up their pursuit of West Ham midfielder Declan Rice at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. The Blues are weighing up a blockbuster summer swoop to bring the England ace to Stamford Bridge as Thomas Tuchel looks to bolster his midfield ranks.

The Blues had a fairly low-key winter transfer window despite having some very obvious areas that needed strengthening. The west London club were looking for a left-back after Ben Chilwell suffered a season-ending injury. They failed to bring back loanee Emerson Palmieri from Lyon, while they were interested in Everton’s Lucas Digne, who eventually joined Aston Villa, prompting the Blues to search elsewhere.

They were also linked with Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele after the Frenchman rejected a new contract with his parent club, but nothing materialised. They did recall Kenedy from Flamengo, and signed Dylan Williams from Derby and Mason Burstow from Charlton. But Williams will not immediately be a part of the first team, while Burstow will remain on loan at Charlton for the rest of the season.

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As per the report, Tuchel’s side are already planning for the future as they look to mount a stronger title challenge in the Premier League next term. They are keen on shoring up their options in midfield with Jorginho and N’Golo Kante in their thirties. And the Blues have identified their long-standing target Declan Rice as the priority in the summer window.

During his time with the Hammers, Rice has established himself as one of the Premier League’s most reliable holding midfielders. The 23-year-old has thrived under the tutelage of Irons boss David Moyes and has taken his game to another level. Not only has he impressed with his defensive awareness, intelligent game-reading and gritty work, but he has also shone with his excellent ball-carrying ability and productivity in the final third.

The England international has been leading West Ham from the front in a way that few could have expected several years back at the London Stadium. He has become a talismanic figure at the heart of the midfield and has made 7 goal contributions from 28 games in all competitions as West Ham continue to impress on multiple fronts this season.

Signing Rice will be a massive coup for Chelsea, as he could be the perfect long-term replacement for Kante. His current deal with the east London outfit runs until 2024, so it would take a hefty sum to bring the Hammers to the negotiation table. The Blues could also face stiff competition from Manchester United and Manchester City in pursuit of the England midfielder.

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