Thomas Tuchel rates West Ham star Declan Rice 'very highly' but can't begin to think about trying to sign the midfielder due to Chelsea's current situation.
The 23-year-old has been revealed in recent days to have rejected a third contract extension offer from West Ham, putting the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City on red alert.
Rice, formerly of the Chelsea academy before being released at the age of 14, has been a long-term target for the Blues, and is on their radar to bolster Tuchel's midfield in west London.
It will take a substantial fee for West Ham to part ways with their prized asset, who is under contract until 2024 with the Hammers having an option of a further year.
However, for Chelsea it's not quite as easy right now. They are unable to conduct any transfer activity due to UK Government sanctions placed on current owner Roman Abramovich.
Once Chelsea has been sold, they will be able to resume their business and a move for Rice could potentially be explored.
He returns to west London on Sunday as West Ham face Chelsea in the Premier League looking to find their first league win in three matches.
Tuchel was, obviously, asked about the England international and spoke extremely highly of the 23-year-old. But he admitted it was pointless discussing Chelsea's potential interest, especially given the fact the club can't buy or sell players.
What Thomas Tuchel said
Responding to how highly he rates the West Ham midfielder, as quoted by football.london, Tuchel simply said: “Very highly.
"He seems to be a very nice guy from what everybody tells me and is from the Chelsea academy and he proves this [his quality]. That’s the most important thing. It feels like he plays every single game.
“He is available, is captain, plays with a lot of responsibility, is a physical player, very strategic-minded player, a key player for his team, and is strong at set-pieces. This is not a surprise. Everybody sees this. He is a huge part of the success of West Ham and it is impressive.”
He added: "Maybe they (players as expensive as Rice) are even out of our league if we don’t have our crisis when you hear the numbers that are floating around.
"But as you know, we don’t speak about other players when it comes to whether we are interested or not interested because we take care of the guys that we have here. Our situation gives me a slight advantage that we can’t even think about buying or selling. So there is no need to think about it.”