Manchester United have been linked with a move for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice ahead of the upcoming transfer window.
What’s the story?
According to the Evening Standard, the Red Devils are keen to “test West Ham’s resolve” over the 22-year-old this summer after an impressive season with the east London club.
Hammers boss David Moyes has previously claimed that Rice is worth in excess of £100m amid interest in his prized asset, so any move is likely to be an expensive one.
Manchester United must swoop
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated his intention to bring in “two or three players to strengthen the starting XI” after United’s disappointing defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final on Wednesday night, and a new defensive midfielder is thought to be high up on the Norwegian’s wish list.
Scott McTominay has often been deployed at the base of United’s midfield in recent years, sometimes alongside Brazil international Fred, but the 24-year-old is naturally more of a box-to-box player.
Although McTominay was arguably United’s standout performer in midweek, the need for a new, more orthodox defensive midfielder has been apparent for quite some time now, with Fred often proving an unreliable figure.
While the Old Trafford outfit have had to select a double-pivot in their biggest games for added insurance for the last two seasons, Rice has gone from strength to strength at the London Stadium, playing a crucial part in West Ham’s sixth-placed finish in 2020/21.
The £58.5m-rated ace (Transfermarkt) enjoyed a stellar season with the east London outfit, making 32 league appearances as they recorded their highest Premier League points haul; and when delving into his underlying numbers, it’s clear that Rice would offer an upgrade on Manchester United’s current options.
In possession, Rice recorded an average of 47.7 passes per game, compared to McTominay’s 40.6; and despite playing more passes, the England international found a teammate more regularly, with an accuracy of 88% compared to the Scotsman’s 87%.
It’s not just with the ball at his feet where Rice excels, either. The youngster made 1.8 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game throughout 2020/21, bettering McTominay’s match averages of 1.6 tackles and 0.9 interceptions.
United need to close the 12-point gap to champions Manchester City next term to continue their progress under Solskjaer, and picking up Rice – once dubbed the “future England captain” by The Times journalist Henry Winter – would be a solid start to that task.