CHELSEA are being tipped to be ahead of Manchester United in the running for West Ham star Declan Rice.

The Blues have had a long-term interest in bringing the former academy player back to the club.

Since leaving the club as a youngster, Rice has gone on to establish himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League.

This season he has improved further in David Moyes's side as he had captained the team to the upper the end of the table and through a tricky Europa League group.

Wandsworth Times: West Ham's Declan Rice playing against ChelseaWest Ham's Declan Rice playing against Chelsea

This form has seen Rice start to be linked to clubs in the Premier League including Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Johnson does think that Rice would be perfect for the Red Devils, but sees Chelsea and Liverpool ahead of them in the race for his signature.

He told "I don’t think Manchester United could get anyone better than Declan Rice.

"If he was available, I think Chelsea or Liverpool would be in front of them anyway.

"Those players only come around once. United have got [Donny] van de Beek or whoever and they try to sign all these players in that position for loads of money and it’s just never worked.

"If I was Declan I would be a bit concerned to be honest with you.

"I’d be thinking Manchester United aren’t the Manchester United of old. There used to be a time when, anytime Manchester United came calling, you go.

"It was the number one place. Everyone wanted to go. But they don’t have that appeal anymore.

"I don’t think he’d end up there whether they want him or not."

However, Johnson does not believe a transfer will happen soon.

He said: "But in terms of their business, I think they should just sit tight and wait until the summer and weigh the whole situation up with everybody."

A move for Rice will be a costly job as he still has multiple years left on his contract with the Hammers who will be in no rush to sell their prized asset.