Chelsea worried about paying ‘Virgil van Dijk money’ for Frank Lampard transfer target

Chelsea are worried about paying ‘Virgil van Dijk money’ for West Ham star Declan Rice, reports say. The England international is being eyed by Frank Lampard as he looks to bolster his backline. But he won’t come cheap, with the Hammers determined to extract big money for their prized asset.

Chelsea are determined to sign a new defender after shipping 54 Premier League goals last term as they finished fourth in the table.

And West Ham star Rice is on their radar, with the England midfielder also capable of playing at centre-back.

Rice was a product of the Chelsea academy but was forced out of Stamford Bridge, since rebuilding his career at West Ham.

He’s regarded as one of the best upcoming talents English football has to offer and is expected to be part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the European Championships next term.

Yet The Athletic say Chelsea don’t want to pay ‘Van Dijk money’ for Rice.

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They feel West Ham will demand extra money from the club given the nature of their rivalry.

Lampard himself burned his bridges with the Hammers when he quit for Chelsea in the summer of 2001, with two players moving in the time since.

Both Joe Cole and Glen Johnson also swapped Upton Park (at the time) for Stamford Bridge and Chelsea know signing Rice will be particularly difficult as a result.

The 21-year-old is valued at £80million by his current club, a fee that would make him the joint second-most expensive defender signing in football history.

And Chelsea feel that, should they spend big on Rice, it would place unrealistic expectations on the youngsters shoulders.

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Meanwhile, speaking recently, ESPN pundit Steve Nicol urged Chelsea to sign Rice – and to play him in midfield, rather than in defence.

“I think [a move for Declan Rice] makes sense,” Nicol told ESPN FC.

“I think when you already have N’Golo Kante, if you bring Declan Rice in then you can play all the forwards that seem to be either at Chelsea right now or are going to Chelsea, and by that I mean the likes of Timo Werner who’s there and it seems like Kai Havertz is going to be there as well.

“You can play those two – Declan Rice and N’Golo Kante – as two defensive midfielders and let another four ahead of them get after it in the attack.

“So listen, it makes sense because Declan Rice is a great player, he’s maturing and getting better season after season.

“I don’t think he’s quite hit his peak yet but this would make complete sense to me for Chelsea and I think for Declan Rice as well.”

For now, Chelsea’s priority target is Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz.

And the Blues are confident of signing the Germany international in the upcoming days, with Leverkusen recently softening their stance.

They’re also looking to recruit a left-back.

And Express Sport understands Chelsea are closing in on Ben Chilwell, with Leicester resigned to losing the England star this summer. 

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