Chelsea are reportedly interested in signing 19-year-old West Ham's defender Declan Rice, as contract talks continue to stall between the youngster and the Hammers.
After making his debut for West Ham in 2017, Rice has emerged as one of the Premier League's most promising young midfielders. He has made a total of 41 appearances for the first team, including seven starts in the Premier League this season. However, with his contract expiring in 2020, West Ham will be wary of allowing one of their most promising talents to leave for free at the end of his deal.
News of Chelsea's interest comes from The Metro, who state that Rice has rejected an offer of a new £20,000-a-week contract. As a result, Maurizio Sarri's side are monitoring the situation and are prepared to offer Rice a wage of around £40,000 per week.
Should Rice refuse to sign a new deal with West Ham, it is likely that the club would look to sell the youngster next summer, instead of risking losing him for nothing at the end of next season. A move to Chelsea would signal a return to his boyhood club for Rice, who spent seven years in Chelsea's academy before being released at the age of 14.
The 19-year-old is currently pondering who to commit his international future to. Despite being born in London, Rice has represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level and has even made three friendly appearances for the country's first team.
However, as friendly matches do not count as competitive matches, Rice's international future is not yet official. He was omitted from the Republic of Ireland squad in August, with the Guardian quoting manager Martin O'Neill as saying: "England have spoken to him. He is taking time to make his mind up. He has done brilliantly for us. I’m giving him a little bit of time.”
Many fans have high hopes for Rice, who has won the club's Young Player of the Year award in the past two seasons. However, with Rice's reluctance to sign a new contract at the club, supporters will certainly be growing concerned over his future.