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Manchester United must revive interest in Declan Rice

Manchester United may have shown great resilience in their recent victory over Tottenham Hotspur, but there is still a lot of work to be done for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s charges.

The Red Devils bounced back commendably from their humiliating defeat at the hands of fierce rivals Liverpool, defeating Spurs 3-0 over the weekend with a disciplined display in north London.

However, that result only masks the issues that have been plaguing Solskjaer’s side all season and beyond.

Question marks rightly remain over the Norwegian’s tactical prowess, while the need for a new defensive midfielder was arguably illustrated in his setup against an out-of-form Tottenham.

After shipping five goals in their previous outing, Solskjaer lineup up with three centre-backs and two holding midfielders in order to protect David de Gea’s net, sacrificing both of his natural wingers as a result.

And while this proved to be an effective and intelligent way to play over the weekend, such a defensive-first, pragmatic approach is unlikely to win him many fans or major trophies in the long term.

Therefore, United’s hierarchy must grant their manager’s wish and add further reinforcements to his engine room over the coming months.

Would Rice be a good signing?

Yes, definitely!

Yes, definitely!

No way!

No way!

It was reported by the Manchester Evening News back in September that United’s hierarchy had identified West Ham United’s Declan Rice as a priority signing after missing out during the summer.

“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,” the report read.

“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.”

But now, with Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho firmly in the door at Old Trafford, football director John Murtough must turn his attention to the ever-improving Rice.

The England international has been in stellar form over the last couple of campaigns but has taken his game to another level in the opening weeks of 2021/22, with Gary Lineker labelling his latest performance “magnificent”.

Rice has played a pivotal part in the Hammers’ fast start to the season, and it’s clear he’d offer an upgrade to Solskjaer’s current options at the base of the midfield.

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As per, the 22-year-old has recorded a combined total of five tackles and interceptions per 90 this term, bettering Scott McTominay’s tally of 3.05 and Fred’s total of 4.47.

But in a side that is expected to be on the front foot as much as United are, it’s also vital that Rice has the ability to cause the opposition some damage when in possession of the ball, and his underlying numbers show that he’s more than capable of doing just that.

Not only has he recorded three assists already, but the youngster has produced two Shot Creating Actions per 90 and carried the ball into the final third of the pitch 3.22 times per 90, outperforming McTominay’s figures of 1.85 and 2.88 and Fred’s 1.59 and 0.39, respectively.

And Rice also appears to be a better passer of the ball than his Red Devil counterparts.

Not only has he got a pass completion ratio of 91% to McTominay’s 86.4% and Fred’s 84.7%, but he also fires the ball into the final third of the pitch more often too, doing so on 6.67 occasions per 90, whereas United’s Scottish and Brazilian duo do so 4.75 and 4.61 times on average.

With that in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that he’s been compared to a United stalwart of the past. Teddy Sheringham once commented: “He’s in the mould of Roy Keane and Michael Carrick, who were two top, top players.”

While Rice would not automatically solve all of Solskjaer’s problems and his purchase would undoubtedly be an expensive one, a player of his ilk is badly needed at Old Trafford, and Murtough must revive his interest in the £63m-rated beast before another potential suitor snaps him up.

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