Manchester United’s midfield has been shown to lack the necessary balance at times this season. Often two midfielders, Scott McTominay and Fred, have been used to do the job of one defensive player.
With Nemanja Matic a fading force, it is important for United to look at signing a top defensive midfielder this summer.
Top of many fans’ most wanted list is England international Declan Rice.
Transfer speculation intensified when The MEN reported this week that Rice would be open to a move to Old Trafford.
A move will not be easy, however. Here is a look at three key questions over the Rice to United transfer links…
Would a move be KO’d by West Ham qualifying for the Champions League?
West Ham are enjoying a better season than anybody predicted. David Moyes has the Hammers in fourth position with seven games remaining.
Finishing in fourth, ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool among others, would earn West Ham a Champions League spot next season.
If that happens, it is going to be nearly impossible to convince West Ham to sell, and Rice will not want to leave. He will want to continue the adventure he is on, and consider his future at a later date.
If West Ham qualify for the Europa League, then it is more open to debate what Rice would want. United would be able to offer a step up with Champions League football.
How much would Declan Rice cost United?
West Ham are in a strong position financially if they finish in the top four. That’s one of the reasons a deal would be a no-go then.
A £100 million valuation is quite obviously ludicrous, but with Rice under contract until 2024, West Ham are under no pressure to sell.
United have an ace in the pack with Jesse Lingard, who could shave up to £30 million off the price.
However, being able to sign Rice for Lingard plus £40 million sounds too easy, and it won’t be.
West Ham would not want to take one step forward and another back in the same transaction, and Lingard himself may find a move to East London less appealing with Rice heading to Old Trafford, when he will no doubt have other offers.
Can United find superior value elsewhere?
Given the financial difficulty with signing Rice for anything less than £70 million, United have to consider different options.
Of course a £70 million plus move for Rice could be deemed good value considering he is 21 and could fill a position of need at United for over a decade, but it is not so simple.
United have other positions to address; winger, striker, centre-back and right-back. Spending such a high fee on Rice may leave United chasing cheaper options elsewhere.
There are other players United could target for the position. Wilfred Ndidi may be slightly cheaper, while players like Teun Koopmeiners or Ismael Bennacer would be substantially cheaper than Rice.
United could alternatively wait on French youngster Eduardo Camavinga, whose contract expires in 2022, and try and sign him as a free agent next year.
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