Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has explained that he’s not surprised by Chelsea’s reported interest in West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, as he feels he suits what Blues manager Frank Lampard is looking for.

The 21-year-old played every single minute of last season’s Premier League for West Ham and he was a pivotal part of the reason they avoided relegation from the top-flight.

He is a defensive midfielder that was the heartbeat and engine in the Hammers side during the past 12 months, which is why transfer speculation is beginning to build around him in this summer window.

(Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

The Times has recently claimed that Chelsea want to sign Rice, who is valued at more than £80million due to his importance at West Ham.

It is understood that swap deals involving Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi have already been rejected for Rice, so it looks like it could take something big to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

West Ham United v Aston Villa - Premier League

(Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images)

Merson has given a glowing verdict on the Blues target and suggests Lampard would be looking to sign him either as a defensive midfielder or as a centre-back in a back three system.

“Declan Rice is going to have choices this summer and I can see why Chelsea want him,” Merson wrote in the Daily Star.

“He has become a top class holding midfielder for his age. He’s so disciplined, and I think it’s up to him how far he goes in the game. West Ham will have to get the right price if they sell. But I can see why Frank Lampard wants him.

“If you’re playing three at the back he ticks the boxes. He’d be comfortable in the middle of a three. I don’t really see him in a four, but he could play just in front of a four if they need him to. I can see where Lampard’s coming from.”

West Ham United v Watford FC - Premier League

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Rice a great fit for Chelsea

With so many talented English players already on the books at Chelsea, Rice would be a great fit if he were to join this summer and make the move across London from rivals West Ham.

Many feel that the Englishman is being eyed for a centre-back position rather than in midfield and it’s something that he’s done coming through academy football.

Lampard’s team are crying out for a physical presence that can be a leader at the back and help patch up the defensive issues, which is why trying to get this deal over the line somehow could be a great piece of business.

Have something to tell us about this article?