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West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio speaks out on Chelsea’s interest in Declan Rice


West Ham and England star Declan Rice is one of Chelsea’s top targets in midfield (Picture: Getty)

West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio has showered Declan Rice with praise for his performances across England’s Euro 2020 campaign and says it’s ‘no coincidence’ Chelsea are interesting in signing the midfielder.

Rice has started all five of England’s matches thus far and has built a formidable partnership with Kalvin Phillips at the base of Gareth Southgate’s midfield, with the side yet to concede a single goal.

The eyes of the world will be on Rice once again this evening as the Three Lions prepare to do battle with Denmark to secure a place in their first final at a major tournament since 1966.

Rice’s outstanding displays will come as no surprise to Frank Lampard, who pushed hard last summer to lure the 22-year-old back to Chelsea, where he had been previously been released as a youngster.

Rice was released by Chelsea’s academy at the age of 14 (Picture: Getty)

Thomas Tuchel has maintained Chelsea’s interest and the club are reportedly ready to revive their move for the sought-after Hammers star after he rejected two offers to extend his stay at the London Stadium.

Speaking to talkSPORT on Tuesday, ex-West Ham forward Di Canio admitted he wasn’t surprised to see the rumours resurface given the ‘physical presence’ Rice would bring to Chelsea’s midfield.

‘Against Ukraine, England didn’t risk anything but with the three balls that arrived on the penalty spot, there was Rice who became the third central defender to intercept which sorted out the problem that can come in this situation,’ the Italian said.

‘He’s very, very good. It’s not a coincidence in England that Chelsea is there because they want something like him.

‘They have [N’Golo] Kante but to have Rice at this time of his career, at his age, with the prospect that he can become one of the best in this position, with his physical presence because also he’s tall.

Di Canio says it’s ‘no coincidence’ Chelsea continue to be linked with Rice (Picture: Getty)

‘He’s good at intercepting the ball, in pressing the opponent, but also maybe restart he play for the team-mates in front of him so he’s one of the best.

‘But the secret of this England side is that they play simple football but in a fantastic way.

‘They don’t take risks, they don’t force play in the middle, they play around and they wait for the time for [Raheem] Sterling to go one-vs-one against his opponent and cause problems like what happened in the first few minutes against Ukraine.’

Di Canio feels Southgate and England have massively benefitted from being able to use five substitutes at this summer’s European Championships.

‘If you don’t concede a goal as England have done until now, which is something strange and special for the national team, then minimum you draw,’ Di Canio added.

‘But England have the quality to score at any time in the game.

‘Don’t underestimate the fact that in this tournament you have five substitutes and teams like England have the chance to change during the game and maintain or even give more quality to the game, especially from the midfield area to the attacking area.’


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