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Rio Ferdinand predicts Declan Rice would prefer to join Chelsea despite recent speculation that Manchester United are keen on the West Ham star.

The former United defender also claimed it is "inevitable" Rice leaves the London Stadium, but not until the summer transfer window at the earliest.

Rice, 21, is vital member of David Moyes' side and his performances in recent years have propelled him to a regular in the England squad.

The midfielder, who can also play at centre-back, was released by Chelsea at the age of 14 and has regularly been linked with a return to west London.

Manchester United are also linked with Rice, though the player is understood to be keen to stay in London.

Rice is firmly on the radar of two Premier League giants
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Ferdinand is a big fan of his compatriot but cannot see him making the move to Old Trafford, conceding a switch to Chelsea further down the line is most likely.

"I don’t think he goes this window, I think he stays there for the remainder of the season. I don’t think he’s the kind of kid who is going to push to leave right now," Ferdinand told his FIVE YouTube channel .

Ferdinand predicts Rice will join Chelsea in a future transfer window
(Image: PA)

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"If it happens, it will be between the clubs. I don’t think he’s going to be the person that instigates it.

"I think he’s quite a laid-back kid in that sense but he’s a driven kid. He’s someone who wants to achieve, better himself and improve.

"He’s like a sponge, he asks questions when you speak to him: 'What was it like in your time?' He reminds me of myself in that respect.

The Blues have long been linked with signing their former academy player
(Image: 2019 Chris Brunskill/Fantasista)

Is Declan Rice England's best midfielder? Have your say in the comments.

"He asks questions like, 'What was he like, training with him?', and he wants to know everything because he wants to better himself and you can’t fault a kid like that.

"Good luck to him. I think it’s inevitable he will go but I think – if I’m being realistic – he will go in the summer and I think it would be to Chelsea if he had his wish."

Ferdinand also claimed the Irons may have to lower their price tag for Rice due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: "I think West Ham would be looking to get as much as they can. I think with the Covid-19 situation, the price has to be altered again.

"West Ham would be looking for £70m plus without Covid but with Covid it will be around £50m or a bit lower than that maybe."

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