Chelsea FC identify £65m star as number one target to strengthen the central defence

Chelsea FC have identified West Ham United’s Declan Rice as their number one target to strengthen the heart of their defence ahead of next season, The Athletic reports.

The Blues are looking to sign a new centre-back this summer and the likes of Jose Gimenez, James Tarkowski and Ben Dunk have already been linked with the club.

Rice has been another name which has been frequently mentioned in recent months and The Athletic (subscription required) claims that he is the number one target to bolster the central defence.

Blues boss Frank Lampard is far from satisfied with the current centre-back options in Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori, and he is eyeing at least one new addition.

Tomori has been the subject of a loan proposal from Rennes but it is reported that he could be offered on loan to the Hammers in order to facilitate the permanent transfer of Rice to Stamford Bridge.

Still, the Hammers won’t let go of their player on the cheap, given he still has four years remaining on his contract with the option for a further 12 months.

He is reportedly valued at around £65m. Rice played every minute of Premier League football for the Hammers last term and each of his appearances came in the defensive midfield role.

However, he has played in the central defence on numerous occasions in the past. Rice fits into Lampard’s requirement for a ball-playing centre-back and it has been suggested that he could play in the middle of a back three for the Blues, suppose he joins them.

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