Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino have now been dealt a major blow in their pursuit of Declan Rice this summer.
A story from 90min claimed that the Argentine had expressed an interest in signing the England international when he initially held talks with the Blues about taking over at Stamford Bridge.
Now – however – there is a problem for Chelsea involving Declan Rice.
What’s the story?
Well – according to the Daily Mail – the West Ham No.41 has made it clear to those interested in his services that he wants to play in the Champions League next season.
Immediately, that puts Chelsea at a disadvantage as Arsenal and Manchester United are also keen to sign Rice.
West Ham are open to selling their captain this summer and have placed a £100m price tag on his head.
The Daily Mail add that Manchester United’s decision to get involved in the race to sign Rice is good news for West Ham in terms of the east Londoners getting what they want, as a bidding war could commence.
West Ham are in a strong negotiating position, as – despite the fact Rice only has 12 months remaining on his contract – they hold an option to extend his deal by another year, so there is no rush to sell.
Chelsea will surely have to look at Declan Rice alternatives
In our view, we can’t see how Chelsea end up being successful in the race to sign Rice this summer.
The 24-year-old openly admitted that he wants to play in the Champions League when speaking at the World Cup back in December.
As quoted by the Guardian, Rice said: “For the last two or three years I’ve been saying that (I want to play in the Champions League.)
“I’ve been playing consistently well for my club and I feel like I really want to keep pushing. I see my friends here who are playing Champions League. You only get one career and at the end you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in.”
Therefore, the timing is all wrong for Chelsea.
It will take a lot to convince Rice to put his Champions League aspirations on hold for another year to join a Chelsea side who will have no European involvement next season whatsoever.
There is also no guarantee that the Blues return to the Champions League next term either, amid the rise of sides like Newcastle and Brighton.
In our view, it would be a major shock if Todd Boehly and Pochettino managed to sign Rice this summer with everything taken into account.