Frank Lampard has finally conceded he wanted to sign Declan Rice last summer and revealed the deal didn’t come to fruition ‘for various reasons’.
Club legend Lampard oversaw a near unprecedented summer of spending at Stamford Bridge which saw over £200million invested in the likes of Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Edouard Mendy, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
Chelsea made an encouraging start to the campaign and embarked on a 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions. That form, however, papered over several obvious cracks which only widened as results began to deteriorate.
Lampard was dismissed in January and replaced by Thomas Tuchel who has masterminded a near instant return to winning ways and has Chelsea well placed to make the top four, while his side currently has one foot in the Champions League semi finals following the midweek win over Porto.
Following his sacking, it was reported that Lampard clashed with key Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, who was said to be unconvinced that Rice was worth the £80million fee West Ham were said to be demanding.
The England international has subsequently enjoyed a stunning season at the heart of a West Ham team pushing for European qualification.
Rather than use the failure to sign Rice as an excuse for his own downfall, however, Lampard insists he is just enjoying the progress made by a player who is destined to star at the upcoming European Championships.
He said: ‘Now you see him in the England squad and quickly you don’t see an England team without Declan in it.
‘We are fortunate to have him in England, West Ham are fortunate to have him. He’s a leader and it is clear that he’s destined for great things. I have probably given it away with how I spoke about him but I think it’s common knowledge that I was a big fan of his.
‘It didn’t happen for various reasons, but we brought in a lot of players in the summer. But I was a big fan of him. For understandable reasons, West Ham know the player that they have on their hands.
‘I don’t want Declan to be in an uncomfortable position through this because all I see from him is absolute performance and desire to play for West Ham. They gave him the chance there and the choice will be Declan’s as the years go ahead, but his performances are great to watch.’