Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has admitted that he wanted to bring West Ham United star Declan Rice to Stamford Bridge last summer, and is a huge admirer of the England international.
The 22-year-old was linked with a move to some of the Premier League's biggest clubs in the summer transfer window, but he remained in east London, and both he and the Hammers have flourished this season.
And Chelsea legend Lampard has told ESPN that he is a 'big fan' of Rice, and tried to sign the midfielder during his time in charge of the Blues. However, a deal never materialised 'for various reasons', meaning the West Ham hero stayed put at the London stadium.
"I've probably given it away in how I've spoken about him," Lampard said.
“He is certainly a player I admire. It is common knowledge I was a big fan of his. It didn't happen for various reasons. We obviously brought players in in the summer and it didn't happen. But I was a big fan of his.
"For understandable reasons as well, West Ham are understanding of the player they have on their hands. I don't want to put Declan in a position with this because all I see from Declan is absolute performance and desire to play for West Ham, the club he is at now.
"I'm sure he absolutely respects the club for giving him his opportunity there. The choices will be Declan's as the years go ahead but the performances he's giving there now is great to watch."
Rice has grown into one of the best central midfielders in the Premier League this season, and is a key player in Gareth Southgate's England side, His impressive displays have carried West Ham to the brink of European qualification, and he will once again be tipped for a move away from the Irons this summer.
Hammers boss David Moyes has insisted however, that it would take the 'Bank of England and the Royal Bank of Scotland' for Chelsea or any other interested party to afford Rice's hefty price tag in the upcoming transfer window.