Chelsea have been one of the most active clubs in the transfer market this summer before the window has even opened. The Blues have already secured Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and Hakim Ziyech from Ajax for £45m and £37.4m respectively but are reportedly interested in acquiring the Hammers’ Declan Rice to improve their leaky defence, which has conceded 49 Premier League goals.
However, it has been suggested that the Blues will look to offload Michy Batshuayi and Ross Barkley, to sweeten the deal for Rice, but West Ham must not be fooled into accepting two of Chelsea’s fringe players, who it has been suggested are deadweight and have just 14 starts between them this term. Rice has been a vitally important asset to David Moyes, he hasn’t missed a minute of Premier League action this term, as the Scot has steered the Hammers to the brink of safety, and the midfielder cannot be allowed to leave in a cheap exchange.
Conversely, Batshuayi has played a bit-part role at best this season, making just one start and 15 substitute appearances in the Premier League. Worse yet, since moving to West London from Marseille, the Belgian international has not hit double figures for any side, including his loan voyages to Crystal Palace, Valencia and Borussia Dortmund. By taking on the struggling centre forward, West Ham would be incurring a sizeable risk while Chelsea snatches one of the London Stadium’s prized assets in return.
An arrival of Barkley would be a similar story, with the England international making 13 league starts for the Blues. However, his attacking output has diminished once again, scoring once, while assisting four Premier League goals. His one goal is the 26-year-old’s lowest tally of any season where he has featured more than ten times, along with recording one fewer assist than he managed last term.
Furthermore, both Barkley and Batshuayi are 26 years old and should be approaching the peak of their powers, but neither player has displayed much evidence of development since arriving at Stamford Bridge. At 21, Rice is not only a more attractive proposition based on his performances this term, which have seen him record an average match rating of 7.02, but he is also a better prospect who could develop well beyond the Chelsea player’s current level.
Barkley and Batshuayi’s Premier League minutes combined, 1328, do not even come close to Rice’s 3240, as he has been ever-present in this Hammers side. Neither Chelsea player reportedly being offered in exchange would replace the England international’s influence in a holding midfield role and may only leave the West Ham squad more unbalanced than it currently is.
If Chelsea are serious about acquiring Rice’s services, West Ham must hold out for an offer which befits his £44.5m valuation (Transfermarkt). Attempting to get rid of two players whose future at Stamford Bridge are uncertain should not be enough for the Hammers to part ways with the England international.