Manchester United have reportedly identified West Ham star Declan Rice as their priority midfield transfer target for next summer.
According to the Manchester Evening News, United chiefs have already held talks the potential framework for a deal to sign the highly-rated 22-year-old as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to strengthen his engine room options.
The report states: “Rice is contracted to West Ham until 2024, but he is not expected to sign a new contract, making a move probable next summer as the Londoners would be under pressure to cash in.
“United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted a new midfielder in the recently closed summer window but accepted there was a high possibility the club would not sign one, as United had prioritised a right-winger and a centre-back.”
Rice has become an integral part of West Ham’s side since making his first team debut back in 2017, scoring five goals and providing six assists in 148 appearances for the capital club.
The England international’s magnificent performances in the centre of the pitch have caught the eye of several impressed onlookers, including Match of the Day pundit and Alan Shearer.
“He’s still only 22, and this is what he does really well. I think he reads the game, he’s obviously got an excellent partnership with (Tomas) Soucek in the midfield,” said the former Newcastle United legend (as relayed by This is Futbol).
“He keeps it simple; he stops teams attacking, can play, can pass, breaks it up and then sets his team on the front foot. I think he’s an excellent player.”
Rice’s ability to curtail opposition attacks and start one of his own is a set of assets which Solskjaer arguably lacks in his current first team squad.
While defensive midfielders Fred and Scott McTominay have performed admirably in tandem when played in a double pivot, the Norwegian is believed to want a holding player who is capable of providing a solid midfielder foundation on his own.
Although there’s no guarantee that Rice would be able to do so, his promising performances for club and country indicate that he’s probably up to the job, and therefore Solskjaer will be elated that United’s hierarchy are preparing a move for the youngster.