"I like the way he plays" - Thomas Tuchel heaps praise on 'impressive' Chelsea target 

Tuchel has praised Declan Rice of West Ham.
Tuchel has praised Declan Rice of West Ham.
Matthew Guyett

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has lavished praise on West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice amidst reports the latter has turned down a new deal from the Hammers.

The 23-year-old has been in scintillating form for West Ham this season. Rice has played a key role in the team's progress to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals. However, there has been speculation over the midfielder's future for quite some time. Both Thomas Tuchel's Blues and Manchester United are rumoured to be keeping tabs on the Englishman.

Acclaimed transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has reported that Rice has turned down a new offer from West Ham. That could pave the way for the Blues to snap up their former talent.

Blues boss Tuchel lavished praise on the English midfielder following the news that he declined a new contract at the London Stadium. Tuchel said (via Fabrizio Romano) how he rates Rice:

"Very highly".

The Chelsea manager continued:

"He's impressive, and very nice guy - he's from the Chelsea academy, and he proves his quality. I like the way he plays".
Declan Rice has turned down new deal proposal from West Ham. Chelsea manager Tuchel answers on how highly he rates Rice: "Very highly". 🔵 @AdamNewson #CFC "He's impressive, and very nice guy - he's from the Chelsea academy and he proves his quality. I like the way he plays".

Rice came up through the youth ranks at Chelsea, forging a close friendship with Blues attacker Mason Mount.

His time at Stamford Bridge came to an end, though, when he was released by the club in 2013. Rice never expected to be released, telling Gary Neville on the Overlap in a later interview:

“(It was) extremely tough, being released at 14 by Chelsea. (It was) something I didn't expect at all; it was all I ever knew as a kid; it was my whole life, going there, training, the mates I met. I felt like that was it, I was gutted."

Since joining the Hammers, Rice has made nearly 200 appearances across competitions, scoring ten goals and contributing nine assists. Five of those goals and four assists have come this season.

Rice has become the club's vice-captain. His impressive performances for West Ham have also made him a fixture in Gareth Southgate's England team.

Declan Rice has unfinished business at Chelsea

Mount (left) and Rice are childhood friends.
Mount (left) and Rice are childhood friends.

Declan Rice is a boyhood Blues fan, has a close friendship with Mason Mount and currently resides in London.

Raised in Kingston-upon-Thames, the 23-year-old has lived in the South West London area all his life. That is why Manchester United's interest in Rice has never seemed to bother Chelsea, especially considering how the two teams have fared this season.

Declan Rice prefers Chelsea FC transfer over Manchester United as the price raised to £150m. #CFC #MUFC [Standard]

United have been utterly woeful this season. They are struggling to finish in the European places and are set to undergo a huge overhaul under new manager Erik ten Hag.

Sixth-placed United trail fourth-placed Arsenal by six points, having played a game more, with only four matches left. Meanwhile, Chelsea are all but guarenteed to finish in the top four, leading Arsenal by two points, but with two games in hand.

So if Rice wants immediate success, he needn't look further than Stamford Bridge. Thomas Tuchel has won three trophies since taking over in January 2021, winning the UEFA Champions League in his first campaign.

He has led the Blues to the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup success this season. Tuchel's men also lost 11-12 on penalties in the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool.

Nevertheless, Tuchel's three trophies at Stamford Bridge are the same Manchester United have won since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. United's last silverware was their UEFA Europa League success in 2016-17.

Considering the same, Rice is likely to remain in London by reuniting with a team he was gutted to leave nine years ago.

Where does Haaland rank in Paul Merson's 5 best Premier League transfers so far? Click here

Edited by Bhargav


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