Chelsea 'step up' Declan Rice transfer as Lampard sees him as new John Terry after impressing in West Ham defence

CHELSEA have stepped up their interest in West Ham star Declan Rice as Frank Lampard sees him as a "successor to John Terry", according to reports.

Despite being most well-known for his holding midfield performances, Blues boss Lampard is said to have been impressed by Rice's recent showing at centre-back.

Rice, 21, came through at Chelsea's academy before he joined West Ham aged 14 after being released by the West Londoners.

Blues star Mason Mount is still his best friend and Lampard would love to link the pair up on the pitch again, according to the Times.

Rice is best known for his performances at the base of the midfield – for West Ham and the seven caps he has won for England.

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But he played at centre-back as a youngster and recently stepped back into defence seamlessly during the Hammers' 2-0 home defeat to Wolves.

SunSport exclusively revealed at the end of last month Lampard wants to use Rice as a centre-back.

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Chelsea have sounded out their London rivals over a deal this summer and believe they can get their man for around £45million.

But West Ham do not want to sell their best player and would ask for a lot more than the £45m Chelsea think they could get him for, with their
valuation closer to £70m.

The ultimate price would depend on if the Hammers are relegated – when the loss of money coupled with the hit due to the Covid-19 crisis would hit them doubly hard.

Though he has forced his way into the England squad on the back of his displays in midfield, SunSport understands Rice himself would be open to changing positions.

Hammers boss David Moyes has said he is as good in the back line as he is in midfield.

That is ultimately where Lampard sees the former Chelsea trainee playing.

The Blues boss wants him to play the central role in a three-man defence as the club make a real challenge next season.

If Chelsea manage to land their man this summer, it will likely see them offload Kurt Zouma to make room.

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