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Chelsea ready to reignite their interest in long-standing target

After being offered the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo on a short-term deal next month, the feeling inside Stamford Bridge is a long-term strategy needs to be pursued.

Chelsea manager Graham Potter. Photo: Reuters© Action Images via Reuters

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Chelsea’s owners have drawn up a lengthy list of potential targets as they eye up a bumper transfer splash in the new year, with one name rising to the top once again.

After being offered the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo on a short-term deal next month, Stamford Bridge chiefs are instead turning their attention to a clear strategic plan.

Chelsea sources suggest ‘quick-fix solutions’ are not on their agenda, with the vision for the future focused on specific targets.

That involves recruiting players with long-term potential to revamp Graham Potter’s side and a key man in that operation could be West Ham’s Declan Rice.

The England midfielder has made no secret of his admiration for Chelsea and he lists Blues legend John Terry as his all-time favourite player.

Chelsea made attempts to sign Rice when Frank Lampard was manager and even though there has been a change of ownership and management at the club, the 23-year-old midfielder remains a key target for Chelsea.

Rice has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United in recent months, but Chelsea believe they would have the edge on their rivals to his signature given his affection for the west London club.

West Ham have been clear that they are not ready to sell their captain, but Rice fuelled rumours over his future with comments made in an England press conference on Thursday.

"I’ve been playing consistently well for the club and I want to keep pushing," said Rice.

"I see my friends here who are playing Champions League football, winning the trophies.

"You only get one career and at the end of your career you want to look back at what you’ve won and the biggest games you’ve played in."

While West Ham are unlikely to consider offers for Rice in next month’s transfer window, that position may change if big money offers come in next summer and the player indicates he is keen to move his career to the next level.

Croatia midfielder Josko Gvardiol is another name on Chelsea’s wanted list, with a focus on youthful players refreshing an aging squad an clear priority for boss Potter and the club’s board in what is being described as a ‘long term vision for Chelsea’.

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