Frank Lampard impressed in the dugout at Stamford Bridge in his maiden season, guiding the club to a top four finish before being dismissed a season later following a poor run of results.
The former Chelsea boss has now revealed that he was not only an admirer of Declan Rice in his first interview outside of the role but suggested that a move for the England international failed to materialise.
Valued at £52m (according to Transfermarkt), the West Ham star is thought to be on the radar of a number of Premier League sides, including Liverpool.
“Now you see him in the England squad and quickly you don’t see an England team without Declan in it,” Lampard told Goal.
“We are fortunate to have him in England, West Ham are fortunate to have him. He’s a leader and it is clear that he’s destined for great things.
“I have probably given it away with how I spoke about him but I think it’s common knowledge that I was a big fan of his.
“It didn’t happen for various reasons, but we brought in a lot of players in the summer. But I was a big fan of him.”
The versatile midfielder, who can also fill out in the centre of defence, has been a pivotal part of David Moyes’ side, with the Hammers, much to the surprise of neutrals, very much in the race for a Champions League spot.
Should West Ham manage to qualify for Europe’s premier competition next season against all odds, Rice’s stock will undoubtedly soar ahead of the summer window, which may very well keep the Englishman at the club.
Though the circumstances surrounding Lampard’s departure do warrant some sympathy, it’s difficult to imagine Rice being the difference between the 42-year-old keeping his job or not, with so many new signings clearly needing time to embed themselves in a new league.