Declan Rice linked with return to Chelsea to partner N’Golo Kante and West Ham fans will remember what could have been after missing out on France midfielder in 2015

Declan Rice is a player in demand this summer after starring for both West Ham and England.

Both Chelsea and Manchester United have been linked with a move for the defensive midfielder, but any deal is likely to cost north of £100million.

Rice is loved by West Ham fans and made his debut for the club in 2017

The 22-year-old was in fact released by the Blues as a teenager and he’s gone on to prove what a huge mistake that was.

The Chelsea links persist where he would also be able to team up with best mate Mason Mount.

Another player he would be teaming up with in midfield would be N’Golo Kante – the maestro who has won Premier League titles with Leicester and Chelsea, as well as the Champions League and World Cup.

Rice and Kante would be a formidable partnership in the middle of the park, one we might just have been able to enjoy a few years earlier.

Leicester signed Kante from Caen in 2015

The France star was linked with a move to the Hammers in 2015 while he was with Ligue 1 side Caen.

Slaven Bilic, manager at the time, wanted to sign him, but he ended up joining Leicester City for just £5.6million.

Sign up to play Dream Team 2020/21 now

  • It’s completely free to play
  • Play the tradtional Season game as well as Draft
  • There’s a hefty jackpot up for grabs across 2020/21

Bilic told the Daily Mail in 2016: “We were quite close. I watched him in France, in Nice.

“He was a good player, the same player he is now with Leicester.

“A holding midfielder, not very tall, but he’s one of those players that you think after 20 minutes that there are twins, that there are two of them because the energy, the cleverness he plays with. He’s always there.

“When you watch a game on television there are players that are always on telly. They are never out of the picture, whatever you see, you see them, he’s one of them.

“That’s not only an ability involving big lungs or legs or whatever, it’s in the head.

“So, he was there but then we got some players before in the same positions and it would simply have been too many players for the same position.”

Kante has been a serial trophy winner at Chelsea

Bilic had to settle for Alex Song on loan and Pedro Obiang for £4.4million and Leicester got a player who turned out to be one of the best holding midfielders in the world.

Kante spent one season with the Foxes, winning the Premier League title in 2016 before he was sold to Chelsea for £32million.

At the Blues, he has won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup, while he also became a world champion in 2018 with France.

He could soon have a new midfield partner beside him in Rice, with reports of a swap deal for Tammy Abraham on the table.

West Ham fans might be able to get to see exactly what could have been with both players in the same side.