Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says there are no regrets at Stamford Bridge over the decision to release Declan Rice as a teenager after the midfielder joined West Ham United and emerged as a key player.
Rice, a regular starter for Gareth Southgate’s England side, featured in all 38 of West Ham’s league games last season and has been linked in the British media with a move back to Chelsea in a potential £70-million transfer deal next month.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s league clash against West Ham, Lampard said Rice deserves “personal credit” for his impressive breakthrough at the London Stadium.
“He’s a fantastic player for West Ham and England so fair play, because his journey there after leaving Chelsea and going to West Ham is a good story to hear,” Lampard told reporters.
“In terms of from our end, I certainly wouldn’t use the word ‘regret’ – our academy is one of the best in the world and you look at our first team now with the players that we have produced who are in and around that squad.
“It’s not easy. It’s not an exact science to pick players but the academy staff do brilliantly here.”
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Chelsea wingers Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi have returned from injury setbacks and trained on Friday and will be monitored ahead of Monday’s match, which sees Lampard take on the club where he began his playing career.
“I don’t take it on myself personally, to me it’s just another game and this one is especially important because we go into it on the back of two losses,” Lampard said. “We want to get back on track.”