Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia forced into Declan Rice transfer plan by Arsenal

Chelsea v West Ham: Premier League match preview

Chelsea transfer chief Marina Granovskaia came close to signing Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid before the Ghana international sealed his summer switch to Arsenal, it has been revealed. The Blues have been linked with a move for a new defensive midfielder for some time, with Declan Rice the latest player tipped to join the west London outfit ahead of next month’s transfer window.

Rice has enjoyed an impressive campaign with West Ham United and is reportedly being tracked by both Chelsea and Manchester United, with the two clubs expected to battle it out for his signature next month or at the end of the season.

It has been suggested that Stamford Bridge may turn out to be the midfielder’s preferred destination, with respected Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano claiming on Thursday that the 21-year-old has his heart set on a return to the club he was released from as a youngster.

“Rice is still pushing to join Chelsea,” Romano told the Here We Go podcast. “But it is up to Chelsea to negotiate a fee with West Ham, which will be difficult in January.”

It is believed that the Blues view the West Ham star as having the potential to become one of the world’s best holding midfielders.

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However, if Frank Lampard’s summer window had played out differently, a move for Rice would be unlikely to happen any time soon.

Granovskaia backed Lampard heavily this summer and she came close to hijacking their London rivals’ deal. 

A report by the Daily Telegraph has revealed that Partey, who penned a deal with Arsenal on transfer deadline day after the Gunners activated his release clause, was a Blues target during pre-season.

It has been claimed that Lampard was willing to sign the 27-year-old late on in the window as long as Chelsea ‘had raised funds and had Arsenal not made a move’.

The Blues were up there with the Premier League‘s biggest spenders over the summer, with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Edouard Mendy among those to join the west London club.

Lampard’s side have won six matches from 13 in the Premier League this season and lie 8th in the table, but are just three points adrift of the division’s top four.

Rice is preparing to face his potential future employers on Monday night as Chelsea welcome West Ham to Stamford Bridge in their final fixture before Christmas.

On Boxing Day, the Blues will face strugglers Arsenal away from home with under-fire Gunners boss Mikel Arteta desperately seeking his first league victory since the beginning of November.

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