CHELSEA released Declan Rice from their academy for three reasons, including his lack of physicality.
That is despite the club knowing he was going through a growth spurt when they decided to let him go.
Declan Rice’s lack of physicality was one of the reasons he was released from the Chelsea academyCredit: Alamy Live News
Rice trained with the Blues until the age of 14 and immediately joined Fulham before later linking up with West Ham, where he is now captain in Mark Noble’s absence.
His performances in recent seasons have led to plenty of speculation linking Rice with a move back to Chelsea as they eye a £70million bid.
But as reported by The Athletic, Rice was not thought to be strong enough.
The midfielder was aware or his own struggles – describing himself as ‘bambi on ice’ at times – but sports scientists were aware of a growth spurt.
However just weeks after this came to light, Chelsea had seen enough.
Another reason was, ironically, Rice’s versatility.
One of his main strengths in his professional career has been his ability to operate in central midfield or at centre-back.
But during his Chelsea academy days, he would be played across the park but failed to make one position his own.
The versatile player was let go at the age of 14 before joining Fulham and then West Ham
A source told The Athletic: “One week he was left-back, the next he was at right wing.
“It got to the stage where it seemed like the only position he didn’t play in was in goal.”
Finally, the imminent arrival of Under-16 defender Joseph Colley from Brommapojkarna is also thought to have played a part as the Swedish youngster came in just weeks after Rice departed.
Chelsea insist they have ‘no regrets’ over the decision to let Rice go, despite seeing the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James progress into first-team stars.
But boss Frank Lampard will be hoping he can convince Rice – under contract until 2024 – to make the same switch across London he made in 2001.
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