Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will be keen to strengthen his squad this summer in order to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool. Adding quality and depth to his defence will be his priority due to the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen but midfield will also be an area of concern.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho have been integral parts of the club’s recent successes, however, both players are in their 30s and in the last year of their respective deals. The Blues now face a major dilemma as to whether to cash in on the ageing duo or offer them new long-term contracts.
However, regardless of whether they put pen to paper on new deals or are indeed sold, the club are in need of younger central midfielders to take the mantle. A plethora of names have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge this summer including West Ham star Declan Rice, who seems to be linked with a return to Stamford Bridge every transfer window.
The 23-year-old enjoyed another impressive campaign for the Hammers, playing a key role in their run to the Europa League semi-finals. He also chipped in with five goals and four assists in all competitions; making it his most prolific campaign to date.
Rice’s contract at the London Stadium runs until the summer of 2024, however, the east Londoners can also trigger an additional year on his deal. His sensational form over the last two seasons have led to the club slap a £150million price tag on the England star.
It remains to be seen if the Hammers could stump up such a fee for Rice or if the Blues would be prepared to pay such a figure under Todd Boehly’s ownership. However, if a deal could be struck Rice would be able to wear the No. 41 shirt that he has become synonymous with as it’s currently vacant.
The number 41 is a strange number for a first team player, let alone someone the calibre of Rice. But he explained to Gary Neville on The Overlap how he came to wear it.
“It was just the number I was given in the academy by the kitman, when you are in the under-23s there are the first team squad numbers and then it gets to the higher numbers and I was given 41 when I went to Seattle on my first trip with the first-team. I was just given 41 and it has stayed with me since.
“And to be honest with you I have been having these conversations with my dad, regardless of what happens in my career I may stay with 41. I just think Rice 41 has a nice ring to it and obviously I have grown up playing in it and I am a bit superstitious with things like that, I don’t know if I change to a new number if it will hamper my performances, I don’t know! Sometimes I think about things like that.”