As the January transfer window approaches, West Ham star Declan Rice is being linked with a return to Chelsea.

According to the Metro, Chelsea are keeping their tabs on Rice’s contract situation at West Ham.

And the Blues could pounce to try to seal a deal on the cheap this January.

Contract stand-off

West Ham and Rice are at an impasse over a new contract. The 19-year-old is out of contract in 2020, leaving West Ham vulnerable if another club comes in with an offer.

Rice has reportedly turned down a £20k-per-week contract improvement. He currently earns £3k-per-week.

According to this report, Chelsea are willing to pay Rice double that. The Blues will offer their former academy player £40k-per-week to return to Stamford Bridge, despite releasing him five years ago.

Rice at West Ham

Declan Rice was released by Chelsea aged 14 but they want him back. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Rice has emerged as one of West Ham’s best players this season, excelling in a defensive midfield role.

The talented teenager has already made nearly 50 first-team appearances, despite his young age, and is a crucial part of this Hammers side.

The 3-cap Republic of Ireland international is also deliberating over his international future, with England keen to poach him.

Having twice won Young Hammer of the Year, Rice is in the running to win the senior accolade this season and is already a firm fans’ favourite in East London.

New deal is the priority

There are no more excuses. With interest intensifying as we approach the January window, this new contract must be the priority.

Considering the wages that some West Ham players earn, £40k-per-week for one of your best players is not unreasonable.

If West Ham do not match the talented youngster’s demands, they risk losing their prize asset on the cheap.