Thomas Tuchel calls Declan Rice transfer target a ‘Chelsea boy’ in tribute to ‘important’ West Ham star| Breaking News Updates

Thomas Tuchel calls Declan Rice transfer target a ‘Chelsea boy’ in tribute to ‘important’ West Ham star

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The former Chelsea academy starlet left the club at the age of 14, but his former club have long been considering bringing him back to Stamford Bridge, with a new decision coming at the end of the season.

Tuchel declined to criticize the decision to release Rice, who has become a pivotal player for England, but made no attempt to hide his admiration for the midfielder.

One day when Chelsea are again without N’Golo Kante, who is sidelined with an injury after twisting his knee, Rice will have the chance to further improve his reputation.

The midfielder is seen as an area that needs to be tackled at the end of the season, with Kante facing extended layoffs with increasing regularity.

But at Rice, they know they would sign a dominant player for club and country without reaching his prime yet.

“It happens in all clubs around the world that sometimes players get released in an instant and go about their careers in a different way, so that’s a pretty normal thing,” Tuchel said.

“I am absolutely aware that he is a boy from Chelsea and that he comes from the academy and that he is very close to our guys.

“He’s a very strong player and in general I’m absolutely impressed with (Tomas) Soucek and him, what they’ve been doing since I entered the Premier League. What they’re doing for West Ham.

“They are real helpers on the pitch, they both have incredible volume. They take responsibility for high pressing, defense in depth, filling gaps on the wings, building deep, goals from set pieces. Both simply do it all.

Tuchel added: “Declan is an important member of the England squad so that speaks for itself. Very strong in construction, very smart in passing and of course they are quality players.

“On top of that, the two midfielders represent pretty much everything West Ham is, they have a heart to play this game to the fullest and they are very good sportsmanship characters. They play with passion, the whole team play with passion, they never give up and there is a lot of quality behind.

Tuchel admits Chelsea have missed Kante’s influence in recent weeks, with Mateo Kovacic also having a hamstring injury and Jorginho resting against Watford midweek.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a surprise emergence in midfield after appearing ready to go this summer.

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He is set to start at London Stadium alongside the return of Jorginho.

Tuchel said: “Jorgi is the left guy of Kova, NG and he of the three on whose shoulders we have put the central role for a very long time now.

“We are absolutely happy that Ruben is stepping in the way he is now. But we are happy that Jorgi is back in training and we can’t wait for Kova and NG to come back because they are a very important part of the season and our games.

“That midfield role is where we missed the experience and leadership qualities of the guys who came out.”

“We replaced him with Trevoh (Chalobah) because we had faith and confidence in him. Until then we couldn’t let him go because of course we are selfish and have to see that we have a strong squad.

“But we also have to see Kurt’s situation and his perspective. He is a strong player, an experienced Premier League player. He suffered from the decision for us with (Cesar) Azpi in the last three, with Andreas (Christensen) in the last three, Toni (Rudiger) in the last three, as direct competitors in his place.

“So he didn’t have enough minutes for his status or his quality and where he wants to be at this time of his career.

“We had a lot of discussions about this in the pre-season where we reflected on his position and our position. The more we got to know Trevoh, maybe we thought that if Kurt had a constant desire to go …

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“For many weeks there wasn’t a lot of interest in him. I was clear, I love Kurt, I told him ‘I love you, we don’t need to have these talks. I’m glad you’re staying even if Trevoh enters.

“I was glad he stayed. He is a high level player and he could have stayed to fight for his place. And you still have a chance to play, but it’s tough competition.

“He accepted it. Then very late this offer came from West Ham. So we had this chat and he decided that this was an offer that might be perfect for him.

“We took a bit of a risk to fully trust Trevoh because we didn’t know at the moment if he could reach the constant levels and I think we were rewarded.”

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