Declan Rice initially sought a move to a Premier League rival before eventually joining Arsenal. Arsenal’s pursuit of the league title received a significant boost with their recent 3-1 victory over Liverpool.
Rice has emerged as a key figure for the Gunners since his £105 million transfer from West Ham last summer.
Despite interest from several top Premier League clubs, the England international, who began his career in Chelsea’s youth system, decided to move to north London.
According to former Chelsea assistant manager Jody Morris, Rice’s preference had been a return to Stamford Bridge. Speaking to William Hill and Footy Accumulators’ No Tippy Tappy Football, Morris revealed: “I messaged Declan Rice when I was at Chelsea, and I asked him whether he’d come back, even after being released by the club.
“He was a center-half back then and there were a lot of people who said he shouldn’t have been released when he was, but in hindsight, it was probably the best thing for him considering all the amazing things he went on to do at West Ham.
“I was always on Frank Lampard’s case saying how unbelievable Rice would be for us when N’Golo Kante kept getting injured, and he wasn’t sure at first, but a month later he was all over him! So, we reached out to Declan on whether he’d want to come back, and he said: ‘I’m a Chelsea fan, of course I would!’
“And from then on, Lampard was speaking to him, and the upstairs members at the club were talking to his parents. In the end, it got put on the backburner in favor of a couple of other signings.”
Morris continued: “It didn’t end up going through, but at the time they were quoting around £60-65 million, so that would’ve been a steal for someone who could have easily been at the club for 10 years.
“For me, Rice is top-drawer, and I’m so excited about the England midfield we have at the minute. Rice has shown his worth in an England shirt and for West Ham and now at Arsenal with a better team, and he’s performing week in, week out.”