According to Eurosport, Manchester United could use attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard in a swap-deal to sign Declan Rice from West Ham United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have long been linked with a move for the Englishman but a move has not yet materialised while he last signed a long-term contract extending his stay until 2024 with West Ham having the option to extend his deal by a further year. He is currently valued at £49m via Transfermarkt.
Lingard, meanwhile, left Old Trafford for the London Stadium on an initial loan deal until the end of the season in search of more regular game time and has been one of the star performers for the Hammers this season so far.
The Red Devils are still adamant that the 28-year-old is not for sale and will not leave the club during the summer transfer window.
However, according to Eurosport, after Lingard cast a flirtatious glance in the direction of the London Stadium, the club’s hierarchy have set their sights on Rice in case a swap deal becomes an option.
If Ed Woodward and co. can somehow pull this off, it could go down as one of the greatest transfer coups in the club’s history.
United are in the market for a defensive-minded midfielder with Nemanja Matic’s long-term future at Old Trafford more uncertain than ever due to his advancing years.
Unfortunately for Lingard, who reportedly earns around £75,000-a-week, Solskjaer has no great need to add another attacking midfielder to his ranks, hence why they sanctioned such a move in the first place.
Bruno Fernandes, the Portugal international, has starred for Solskjaer’s side since his move from Sporting Lisbon in 2020 and under the Norwegian this term he has already scored 15 goals and added a further 15 assists in 25 Premier League appearances.
Signing Rice, however, would be an upgrade on the ageing Matic, who has been at fault for some sub-par performances this season – against Aston Villa, he was rated as one of United’s worst players on the pitch by SofaScore during the Red Devils’ 2-1 victory over the Villans.
By the numbers, the English midfield dynamo’s defensive stats are far greater than the Serbian’s in almost every area this season.
Rice currently averages more clearances (0.8 pg), interceptions (2 pg) and tackles (1.6 pg) per match than the 32-year-old. Although they both commit the same number of fouls, as per WhoScored, United need their players to win the midfield battle.
They have shipped 32 league goals so far this season, which is more than the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham just over the halfway point of the campaign.
Solskjaer needs to prioritise signing a new central midfielder, that much is clear, and it’s fair to say that Rice could be the perfect fit for the Red Devils.
AND in other news, Max Aarons would be a major upgrade on Man Utd outcast Diogo Dalot…