West Ham’s Declan Rice has long been linked with a move to Chelsea, with Frank Lampard known to be a strong admirer of the former academy player.

It is thought that the Blues were preparing to make a sizeable bid for Rice in the late stages of the summer transfer window, but no approach was made after failing to offload several other players to free up the wage bill and raise funds before the deadline.

Chelsea certainly remain interested in the midfielder and are expected to try again in January, but West Ham’s reported £70m valuation and the quality of players who Chelsea already possess in the same position severely complicates any potential deal.

According to Dean Jones in an article for Eurosport, some figures at the club are starting to believe that if their pursuit of Rice is unsuccessful then it could be worth waiting to sign Jude Bellingham instead in a future window.

Bellingham – who recently made his senior England debut aged just 17 – joined Borussia Dortmund from Birmingham City this summer for £20m, a record fee for a player his age.

Although Manchester United were the English club heavily linked with him, Chelsea have been monitoring Bellingham since before his transfer and like the fact that he can play both as a number six and number eight.

With N’golo Kante now on the verge of entering his 30s, there is a suggestion that Chelsea could last another 18 months with the Frenchman in midfield before making an offer for Jude Bellingham in the summer of 2022 rather than signing Rice, however the success of any negotiations that take place with West Ham in the coming weeks and months will surely decide this.

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