"I like the way he plays" - Thomas Tuchel heaps praise on 'impressive' Chelsea target


Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has lavished praise on West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice amidst reports the latter has turned down a new deal from the Hammers.

 The 23-year-old has been in scintillating form for West Ham this season. Rice has played a key role in the team's progress to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

However, there has been speculation over the midfielder's future for quite some time. Both Thomas Tuchel's Blues and Manchester United are rumoured to be keeping tabs on the Englishman. Acclaimed transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has reported that Rice has turned down a new offer from West Ham. That could pave the way for the Blues to snap up their former talent.

Blues boss Tuchel lavished praise on the English midfielder following the news that he declined a new contract at the London Stadium. Tuchel said (via Fabrizio Romano ) how he rates Rice:

"Very highly". Tuchel continued

"He's impressive, and very nice guy - he's from the Chelsea academy, and he proves his quality. I like the way he plays".

Rice came up through the youth ranks at Chelsea, forging a close friendship with Blues attacker Mason Mount. His time at Stamford Bridge came to an end, though, when he was released by the club in 2013. Rice never expected to be released, telling Gary Neville on the Overlap in a later interview:

“(It was) extremely tough, being released at 14 by Chelsea. (It was) something I didn't expect at all; it was all I ever knew as a kid; it was my whole life, going there, training, the mates I met. I felt like that was it, I was gutted."

Since joining the Hammers, Rice has made nearly 200 appearances across competitions, scoring ten goals and contributing nine assists. Five of those goals and four assists have come this season.

Rice has become the club's vice-captain. His impressive performances for West Ham have also made him a fixture in Gareth Southgate's England team.

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