The former Hammers striker says a versatile England international would be an advantage for any Premier League team as transfer talks build
Declan Rice would be an upgrade to Fred and Scott McTominay for Manchester United, says John Hartson, and Manchester City should also be tied to West Ham midfielder who is strongly linked to Chelsea.
At the age of 21, the England international took over as captain at London Stadium when Mark Noble fails to continue to record growth in his shares.
A return to Stamford Bridge, where he had previously spent time in the academic system, is regularly encouraged.
Chelsea, however, aren’t Rice’s only suitor, and former Hammers striker Hartson believes rivals United and City could go even worse than investing in a proven performer willing to fulfill tasks in their engine rooms.
He said Astro Stadium: “I think he’s better than Fred, I think he’s better than McTominay.
“[Bruno] Fernandes is outstanding, he is the best Manchester United player in the last 12 months since they bought him. [Paul] Pogba, we’re not quite sure what Pogba will come up with – some weeks he’s great, others he has a rash and doesn’t look up to it. I think it would be a great signature for them.
“Man City? Rodri, Fernandinho – I’m not sure Rodri is the player we expected, his performances were not up to standard.
“I think he’s joining those teams. I think Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would love Declan Rice. I think he is better than those players. ”
Hartson added: “West Ham will not want to lose one of their best players, probably the best player – their biggest asset. West Ham are trying harder this season to get into the top six to seven.
“I think Declan Rice would enter any side in the Premier League and would be an advantage on that side. I think he is an outstanding midfielder – he keeps the ball, he is a great athlete, he is brave in possession and off it. Okay, it’s not that you’re a brilliant goal scorer, as Frank Lampard was, but I believe he’s a current England midfielder.
“I think the favorites to sign him would be Chelsea. Frank Lampard is a great admirer.
“What would he be worth?” You would have to pay at least £ 80 million for it. That’s an extreme amount of money, but these teams have the funds to buy it. “
Although Chelsea are thought to be leading the chase for Rice’s signature, former Blues goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is not convinced that Lampard must invest heavily in the youngster during the 2021 winter window.
He said: “There is no doubt that the guy is a really good player. Is his priority Chelsea in January? I don’t think so.
“I don’t really see why Chelsea should go and spend a little more to try to get someone in January – especially someone like Declan Rice.
“He’s very good, but would he add to Chelsea?” Of course they will add, but is that a need in January? I do not believe. “