Manchester City are lining up a bid to sign Declan Rice from West Ham United, according to The Sun.
Pep Guardiola’s champions have identified the midfielder as a potential long-term replacement to Brazilian Fernandinho, who turns 34 in May.
According to the aforementioned report, City boss Pep Guardiola is well aware of the need to secure a replacement to Fernandinho before the end of the season.
And the 6ft 1in Rice is said to have caught his attention, with his passing range and reading of the game leaving Guardiola impressed.
However, Rice signed a new contract with the club only last month after protracted negotiations with the Irons.
That would, of course, push the price up significantly, with City reportedly aware that an offer of over £50million would be needed to prise Rice away from east London.
They are keen, though, to have Rice play alongside Fernandinho for a season to learn the ‘City way’, before replacing him in the side.
This is a prime example of interest coming at the wrong time for the buying club.
Had City expressed their interest before Rice committed to a new deal they could perhaps have convinced the 19-year-old to drag his heels on a deal and push the price down.
Instead, they appear to have waited, and now seem set to have to pay through the nose if they are to secure one of the best young players in the Premier League.
West Ham, then, are unlikely to allow Rice to leave without a fight, and would surely want north of the quoted £50m, and probably more than the club-record £60m fee City paid for Riyad Mahrez last summer.
Check out the video below to see Pl>ymaker FC’s American Soccer Fan give his take on all six ‘field goals’ in West Ham v Burnley…
The Irons have struck gold with Rice, the best player to emerge from their academy in the last decade, and are well aware of the value he holds.
If City do firm up their interest, it would not be surprising to see it become something of a saga.