Kevin Phillips insisted it would be a “huge” blow to West Ham if they were forced into selling Declan Rice this summer.
The former Sunderland and Aston Villa striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, tipped the 21-year-old to accept an offer to join Chelsea if one is forthcoming.
Football Insider revealed the financial implications of the Coronavirus pandemic may force the club into selling as many as three first-team players this summer.
Rice represents the Hammers’ most valuable asset and although the club is reluctant to sell the England international, a sizeable bid may be hard to turn down.
The holding midfielder has been ever-present in a difficult season for David Moyes’ side.
When asked by Football Insider what impact Rice’s departure would have on the squad, Phillips said: “He will be a huge miss. The last two or three months before the break he was very quiet but he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders for a player of his age.
“He has shown that he is a quality player and I think he will move on.
“If you get the opportunity to go to Chelsea like Frank did as a young lad, you are going to take that option.
“Wherever Declan Rice goes he is going to play week in and week out. If you have the chance to go to Chelsea it is a move that I would certainly take.”
Sky Sports reported last month that the England international is a target for Chelsea with Frank Lampard keen to bolster his midfield with the youngster.
A move would allow Rice to reunite with close friend Mason Mount who, this season, has established himself as a first-team regular at Stamford Bridge.
In other West Ham news, Noel Whelan has told Football Insider club should think twice before signing 29-goal attacker.