Manchester United travel to the London Stadium on Sunday against a West Ham side that doesn’t have the league’s joint top goalscorer Michail Antonio available due to suspension.
But David Moyes’ team are so much more than the Jamaican international and one man that will be keen to impress is Declan Rice.
Alongside Tomas Soucek in midfield, Rice will be looking to impose himself on United and show the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and managers of other big clubs, that he is worth the reported £100m transfer fee.
Declan Rice could thwart United
With Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes looking to get on the ball and create chances for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mason Greenwood, Rice will know that he will have to be at this best to stop United.
But the English midfielder will not want to just contain United, he will be eager to impose himself on the match with his driving lung-busting runs from deep which gets his team back on the front foot and up the pitch.
Rice loves playing in the big games as it is, but when he’s going to be coming up against his good pals Jesse Lingard, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, he’s going to especially want to get one over his England teammates.
He was impressive for West Ham in their Europa League game in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb.
Rice scored the second goal in their 2-0 win, while completing 98 per cent of his passes. He made two tackles and two interceptions, playing a total of 82 minutes.
An audition for future United move?
Although we had a fantastic transfer window, that cherry on the top of the cake proved elusive when we didn’t secure a defensive midfielder.
With Rice’s West Ham contract not expiring until 2024, and with the club having the option to extend by a further year (Transfermarkt), it’s going to take a big fee to convince the Hammers to part ways with their star man.
After securing Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho this summer, United got the men they identified to improve the centre back and wide right positions.
Attentions will probably turn to Erling Haaland and a defensive midfielder next summer.
If United were able to sign Rice and Pogba signs a new contract, Solskjaer’s team would be complete.
Rice would be that perfect screen in front of Maguire and Varane, but he also has the composure and passing range to distribute the ball quickly to our attacking players.
United lack that natural defensive midfielder, who is quick, strong, comfortable on the ball and can sense danger. Rice has all those qualities and more.
He would improve United in both an attacking and defensive aspect, but let’s hope he has an off day come Sunday.
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