Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has opened up on his failed pursuit of Declan Rice – who has emerged as a priority transfer target for Manchester United.
West Ham midfielder Rice was heavily linked with a return to the Blues – where he came through the academy ranks – throughout Lampard’s 18-month tenure in the Stamford Bridge hot seat.
The Englishman has shone for club and country this season, reportedly catching the eye of Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the process.
Old Trafford chiefs may use Jesse Lingard as a makeweight to get a deal for Rice over the line – but their plans would have been scuppered if Lampard’s plan had come to fruition.
“We are fortunate to have him in England. West Ham are fortunate to have him,” said Lampard of Rice in a Q&A for the Willow Foundation.
“He’s a leader and it is clear that he’s destined for great things.
“I have probably given it away with how I spoke about him, but I think it’s common knowledge that I was a big fan of his.
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“It didn’t happen for various reasons, but we brought in a lot of players in the summer. But I was a big fan of him.”
It’s not hard to see why Lampard and Manchester United covet Rice, as the 22-year-old has played a key role guiding the Irons to fourth in the Premier League, meaning they are firmly in the race for a Champions League spot.
Lampard added: “For understandable reasons, West Ham know the player that they have on their hands.
“I don’t want Declan to be in an uncomfortable position through this because all I see from him is absolute performance and desire to play for West Ham.
“They gave him the chance there and the choice will be Declan’s as the years go ahead, but his performances are great to watch.”
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