Frank Lampard insists there is ‘no regrets’ about Chelsea letting Declan Rice leave as a youngster… and Blues boss describes England international as ‘fantastic’ as his former club plot £70m move in January
- West Ham midfielder Declan Rice was released by Chelsea at the age of 14
- But now the Blues are linked with a £70m move for Rice in the January window
- Chelsea manager Frank Lampard insists the club don’t regret letting him go
- The Hammers can go above Chelsea in the table with a win on Monday evening
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says there are no regrets from the club about allowing Declan Rice to leave as a youngster, as the Blues continue to be linked with a £70m transfer next month.
The West Ham midfielder, who is now a regular starter in Gareth Southgate’s England side, was released by the Blues at the age of 14 before being picked up by the Hammers.
And ahead of the two sides meeting at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening Lampard praised Rice, saying he ‘deserves personal credit’ for his impressive first-team breakthrough, as Chelsea continue to be linked with a big-money move for the 21-year-old.
Frank Lampard says there are no regrets from Chelsea about allowing Declan Rice to leave
The 21-year-old midfielder has been a key figure in West Ham’s impressive start to the season
‘He’s a fantastic player for West Ham and England,’ Lampard said, in his pre-match press conference.
‘Fair play. It’s a good story because lot of those stories. It shows a strength of character. Wouldn’t say it’s a regret.
‘Our academy is one of the best in the world and it’s not easy because it’s not an exact science. Declan deserves personal credit for the start he has had at West Ham.’
Chelsea were strongly linked with a summer move for Rice but he stayed in east London and has been a key influence in an excellent start to the season for David Moyes’ side.
Rice is best friends with Chelsea attacking midfielder Mason Mount, who is also a team-mate at international level.
Rice (R) is close with Mason Mount from when they played in the youth team at Chelsea
West Ham go into Monday’s clash just one point behind Chelsea – but Lampard admits his attitude towards his former club has ‘mellowed’ since he became a manager.
Asked if it meant more to play the Hammers, he replied: ‘It did when I played but as a manager it doesn’t.
‘Maybe I’ve mellowed but I focus on what’s necessary for the club. I see it as another game. An important one after two defeats in a row.’
Blues are looking to recover after defeats against Everton and Wolves in the last week
West Ham did the double over Chelsea last season, winning 1-0 at the Bridge last November
Lampard’s side are looking to bounce back after consecutive defeats on the road in the past week to Everton and Wolves.
Meanwhile Moyes’ side drew 1-1 at home in another London derby, against Crystal Palace, on Wednesday night.
West Ham did the double over Chelsea last season, winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge last November and 3-2 at the London Stadium in July.
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