Declan Rice is not the only player on Chelsea’s shortlist for the summer, according to reports.
Should the Blues fail in their pursuit of the West Ham midfielder, Thomas Tuchel has two alternatives lined up: Aurelien Tchouameni and Julian Weigl, of Monaco and Benfica respectively.
The reports, stemming from the Metro, come amid rumours that Chelsea are reluctant to meet West Ham’s asking price for Rice, thought to be around £90million.
Rice spent eight years in the Chelsea academy before being released at the age of 14. He has since gone from strength to strength in East London, developing a reputation as one of the most accomplished midfielders in the Premier League.
Chelsea are not the only club vying for his signature, though. Manchester United are also thought to be preparing a move for the 21-year-old, and the Blues will be fearful of getting drawn into a bidding war.
They may conclude that there is better value for money in someone like Tchouameni, who has been named the Young Player of the Year in Ligue 1 and could be available for £34million this summer.
“He can play anywhere in midfield and he will not have a problem,” Monaco teammate Cesc Fabregas told BT Sport of the youngster.
“He can play as a No 6 alone, as a defensive midfielder, as a No 8, in a double 6. What he’s doing now, even in a year’s time, he could become a good No 10 if he wanted.
“He’s got the power to get into the box. He needs to improve his final pass a little bit, but he’s so young, and he’s determined to learn.
“From what I can see, and the will that he has, he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Weigl, meanwhile, played under Tuchel for three seasons at Borussia Dortmund and has impressed at Benfica.
Speaking in November amid reports of his desire to leave the club, Weigl said: “I know that I carry a lot of baggage and have my critics.
“I’m not the type of player to set the pitch on fire with loads of tricks. As a defensive player, my qualities lie elsewhere.”