Frank Lampard believed incoming Arsenal signing Declan Rice could captain Chelsea for 10 years

Frank Lampard has reiterated he was desperate to sign Declan Rice during his first stint at Chelsea and says he believed the England midfielder could captain the Blues for a decade.

Chelsea expressed interest in signing Rice during Lampard’s first spell in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat but a move failed to materalise.

The Blues retained interest in Rice after Lampard’s sacking in 2021 but the West Ham captain has agreed to join Arsenal this summer in a deal worth more than £100m.

Rice spent almost a decade at West Ham after being released by Chelsea at the age of 15, making 245 appearances for the Hammers and helping the club win the Europa Conference League last season.

The 24-year-old is now set to be unveiled as Arsenal’s record-signing and joins a Gunners side that finished as runners-up in the Premier League last term.

But Rice would be playing for Chelsea had Lampard got his way, with the England legend revealing he was backing the midfielder to be a long-time captain at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking on the Diary of a CEO podcast, Lampard said: ‘Chelsea won the Champions League after I left and at that point you think, “what’s the next move for the team?”

‘What was the recruitment at that point? Maybe some players left during that period, and maybe in terms of recruitment you wanted to bring in some players for the future.

‘When I was at Chelsea [during the first stint] I wanted to bring in Declan Rice. I was like, “this kid’s going to be the captain of Chelsea for the next 10 years.” But it didn’t happen.’

Lampard returned to Chelsea as interim managers towards the end of last season following Graham Potter’s sacking but the team’s struggles continued as they slumped to 12th in the Premier League.

Mauricio Pochettino, the former Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham and Southampton boss, arrived at Stamford Bridge last week after agreeing to become Chelsea’s sixth permanent manager since 2018.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are preparing to announce the signing of Ajax defender Jurrien Timber as well as Rice, having already completed a £65m move for Chelsea forward Kai Havertz.

The Gunners begin the 2023-24 campaign on August 12 against Nottingham Forest, while Lampard’s former club Chelsea kick-start the season against Liverpool.