Rice established himself as one of the best young midfielders in the Premier League at West Ham and ended up joining Arsenal in a £105 million deal last summer.
But Morris, who was Lampard’s assistant during their 18-month at Chelsea, claims he was targeting Rice as a long-term replacement for N’Golo Kante.
Morris believes Rice was open to returning to Chelsea after being released by the club’s academy in 2013, and claims West Ham would have accepted a bid worth £60 million.
‘I messaged him when we were there and said, ‘would you come back?’, because obviously, he was released from Chelsea as a 14-year-old,’ Morris said on the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast.
‘If you actually spoke to Dec, I don’t think that he would have thought that he should have been released. But there was quite a few of them that thought maybe he shouldn’t have been released.
‘It’s probably the best thing for him. He’s gone on to amazing things at West Ham. But while he was there, going into the second season I was on at Lamps all the time going, ‘Dec would be unbelievable for us’.
‘We need more legs because [N’Golo] Kante hadn’t played for us a lot. He’d only played about 40 percent of the time, he kept getting injured. And I said, ‘would you like Dec?’, and Lamps said, ‘I don’t know, I haven’t really seen enough of him’.
‘About a month later, he was like I’ve been all over Dec since we’ve been having a closer look. I messaged Dec saying, ‘would you come back’, otherwise there’s no point Lamps going to have the conversations with anybody if Dec is still [not wanting to leave]. And he went, ‘no, no, I’m a Chelsea fan, of course I would’. So that got put in motion and Lamps started speaking to him. And it was on.
‘The upstairs at the club were speaking to his dad and talking about a few things. It was pushed behind a couple of other signings and didn’t get through.
‘I think at the time they were quoting around £60 million, £65m, so that would’ve been an absolute snip.’
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