Is Rice the answer for Manchester duo?
Amid renewed speculation over the future of Declan Rice at West Ham, we ask where he would be best moving on to with both Man City and Man Utd interested.
The England international will get the chance to impress the Red Devils hierarchy in person on Sunday when the Hammers play host to United at the London Stadium and in the build-up to the game, there has been renewed talk about a potential move to Old Trafford.
However, the 20-time English champions aren’t the only side interested with local rivals Manchester City having also been linked with a move during the summer transfer window.
West Ham are determined not to let him go on the cheap though, slapping a reported £90million price tag on the 20-year-old’s head, although when clubs with the wealth of United and City want someone, they usually get their man.
Rice put pen to paper on a new deal with the Londoners last December, tieing him to the club until 2024, so it is very much advantage West Ham if City and United do come calling.
His manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is expecting him to take his game to another level this season and has liked what he has seen of him thus far, starting him as a holding midfielder in all five of the Hammers’ league games this term.
That is certainly the position where Rice looks most comfortable, making the joint-highest number of tackles of any midfielder in the Premier League this season while only committing six fouls.
DECLAN RICE'S STATS FOR THE 2018/19 SEASON ⚒
— ⚒ COYIrons ⚒ (@COYIrons_com) June 26, 2019
While not afraid to put his foot in, Rice has also proven adept at using the ball, completing 81.5 per cent of his long passes this season, with only City’s Rodri having a better ratio.
In Monday’s goalless draw at Aston Villa, he completed 96.3 per cent of his passes and it would seem he would look at home in any midfield in the country.
However, with City having spent big to sign Rodri from Atletico Madrid in the summer will they have the stomach to meet West Ham’s asking price? They passed on Harry Maguire after baulking at Leicester’s valuation but that has come back to haunt them given their ongoing defensive injury crisis.
Rice’s range of passing and physical make-up fits the mould of what Guardiola looks for in a defensive midfielder and he doesn’t have massive strength in depth in the position with Rodri and Fernandinho, who turned 34 in May, his only options.
United’s need could well be greater though and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to make his side younger, hence why Scott McTominay has been handed plenty of chances this season in central midfield.
Nemanja Matic and Fred are the two more senior options for the Norweigan at the base of his midfield but neither seems to fit into Solskjaer’s plans, Matic having already taken umbrage with his lack of chances this season.
United would probably need to sell before they can buy given the Hammers’ asking price but are not opposed to spending big on young English talent.
With more first-team opportunities to be found at Old Trafford and the Red Devils in need of a ball-winning midfielder, United look to have the early lead in this transfer race.