We ‘signed’ Declan Rice for Chelsea as January transfer boost amid West Ham exit hint


Chelsea are once again being linked with a move for Declan Rice after the midfielder made some telling comments on his future at West Ham. A long-term target for the Blues, Rice has established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders in the last few seasons, with his performances so far for England in the 2022 World Cup confirming his quality. Rice has been linked with a move away from West Ham for quite some time now, and every major club interested in the 23-year-old would’ve been put on alert after his attention-grabbing comments.

“I see my friends here [England] who are playing Champions League football, winning the trophies,” said Rice ahead of England’s clash with Senegal. “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.”

Rice was part of the Chelsea academy until the age of 14 when he was released. Along with the Blues, Manchester United and Liverpool are two other major clubs that have been linked with the Englishman. So, if Chelsea were to sign Declan Rice in the January transfer window, what could happen? We simulated the rest of the season to try and find out.

We ‘signed’ Declan Rice for Chelsea as January transfer To set up this simulation, we used the brand-new Football Manager 2023 editor to arrange for the midfielder to join Chelsea on January 1, 2023, using FM23 to run the simulation. We then simulated the remainder of the 2022/23 season to judge the impact Rice could have in the heart of Graham Potter’s side.

As expected, Rice was utilised on his arrival by Potter, and the midfielder quickly established himself as one of the most important members of the Chelsea squad. Over the course of his time at West Ham and Chelsea, Rice made 45 appearances, with 28 of them coming at the Blues.

In his six months at Chelsea, he managed seven assists in all competitions, taking his tally to 11 for the season. His best competition was the UEFA Champions League though, with the midfielder starring on his introduction to the big stage.

In seven Champions League appearances, Rice averaged a rating of 7.63 per game, with his average rating for Chelsea across all competitions at 7.36, the highest in the Chelsea squad. Mason Mount was the next best player at the club with an average rating of 7.14, whilst Reece James, Thiago Silva and Jorginho closely followed the Englishman.

Raheem Sterling ended the season as the Blues’ top scorer with 26 goals, whilst only Ben Chilwell managed more assists than Rice (8). At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2023 put together an overall best Chelsea XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what it looked like:

Full Chelsea best XI: (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Fofana, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Rice, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz; Sterling.

Rice made the Chelsea XI in the simulation, starting over both N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic despite being at the Blues for just six months. Sterling was deployed at striker over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whilst Chilwell was the chosen left wing-back over Marc Cucurella.

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