Manchester City have identified Declan Rice as a possible long-term successor for Fernandinho and are plotting a move for the West Ham star should their long-serving Brazilian leave the Premier League champions-elect this summer.
The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and had been widely expected to depart after eight, glorious trophy-laden years at the club.
His performances in recent weeks, however, could force City to reconsider offering the former Shakhtar Donetsk star a new deal.
‘I’ll define my situation after the end of this season,’ Fernandinho, himself, told TNT Sports Brazil. ‘The club respected this decision I’ve made.
‘I’m very focused on the final part of this season. I and the club respect each other a lot. We will sit and talk after May 30.’
Rice, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the leading candidates to replace Fernandinho following his exploits with West Ham this season that have rendered him an automatic choice at the heart of Gareth Southgate’s England midfield.
The 22-year-old is known to Enzo Maresca, City’s under-23 coach, who worked with Rice in east London for one year while assistant to Manuel Pellegrini.
The Hammers refused to budge last summer when former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard made Rice one of his main targets, but the club’s influential director, Marina Granovskai, baulked at the player’s £80million valuation.
Speaking recently about Chelsea’s failure to land Rice, Lampard said: ‘It didn’t happen for various reasons, but we brought in a lot of players in the summer. But I was a big fan of him. For understandable reasons, West Ham know the player that they have on their hands.
‘I don’t want Declan to be in an uncomfortable position through this because all I see from him is absolute performance and desire to play for West Ham. They gave him the chance there and the choice will be Declan’s as the years go ahead, but his performances are great to watch.’
Chelsea’s interest in Rice has cooled since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival and the club are now said to be looking at Barcelona’s out of favour summer recruit Miralem Pjanic.
Manchester United, too, hold a long-standing interest in Rice and the player reportedly asked his England colleagues about life at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the most recent international break back in March.
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