Rice drops Chelsea return hint as in-demand West Ham midfielder makes Mount admission

Declan Rice has hinted that he would be open to making a move to Chelsea, with the West Ham midfielder eager to play alongside former Stamford Bridge academy team-mate Mason Mount.

The pair, who have represented England together, formed a close bond during their time as ambitious youngsters in a famed youth system.

Mount has been able to make a breakthrough in west London, with the 21-year-old playmaker benefiting from Frank Lampard’s arrival as Chelsea boss, but Rice was released before securing a professional contract.

He has gone on to make his name at West Ham, having been transformed from a promising centre-half into one of the finest holding midfielders in the Premier League.

Those qualities are not lost on those he left behind at Chelsea, with talk of a big-money transfer starting to build again heading towards another window.

The Blues are far from Rice’s only suitor, with Manchester United said to have held long-standing interest in a promising performer with plenty of potential to still unlock.

Chelsea, though, hold a special place in his heart – especially with Mount on their books.

The former Republic of Ireland international, who has switched allegiance to England, told Copa90 of his desire to turn out alongside a familiar face on a more regular basis: "Yeah I’d love to, I’d love to play with him [Mount] at club level again.

"One thing we’ve always said as kids we’d love to play with each other at club and international level but obviously you never know because of different paths and things like that."

Taking Rice back to Stamford Bridge would not come cheap for Chelsea.

It has been suggested that a fee of over £50 million ($63m) would be required in order to tempt West Ham into a sale.

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There is an emotional bond between player and club, though, with a man the Blues allowed to move on back in 2014 left devastated by a severing of ties with the five-time Premier League champions.

Mount’s father Tony has revealed in the recent past: "Mason and Declan are best friends. They always have been and still are now. They talk to each other all the time.

“When Declan got released at 14, we were all devastated. Debbie [Mount’s mother] was in tears and Mason was gobsmacked."