Exclusive - West Ham have told Chelsea that Declan Rice is not for sale for any price this summer, but the Blues are undeterred as they look to bring the 21-year-old back to the club.
Rice was let go by Chelsea's academy as a 15-year-old, but was quickly snapped up by the Irons, where he has blossomed into one of the Premier League's leading defensive midfielders. He was an ever-present in the West Ham team last season, and has garnered plenty of attention in his 100+ appearances for the east London side.
Both Manchester clubs and Liverpool have held an interest in the past, but it's Chelsea, this year's big spenders, who have wrestled their way to the front of the queue. On Friday, it was claimed by The Sun that they are set to make a concrete approach for the England international.
90min understands, however, that as far as West Ham are concerned, a deal is off the cards. A source has indicated that the club have told Chelsea in no uncertain terms that he is not available - even if they match the previously touted £75m asking price.
Frank Lampard sees the player as a future leading central defender, and he has played in that position previously. David Moyes has deployed him solely in midfield, but did hint ahead of Saturday's match with Arsenal (per The Star) that he could be the answer to his defensive personnel crisis.
Rice has made it clear to West Ham that he wants to return to the club, but is not expected to force an exit after being told by the club he will not be sold. Chelsea, however, are not fully convinced by their stance, and may still test the waters with a formal bid.