Manchester United are looking at potential alternatives to West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice for next summer, a report from ESPN claims.
The Red Devils had a superb summer transfer window, spending £126 million on Tom Heaton, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo.
A right-sided winger and a central defender were the top priorities, and the move for Ronaldo came out of the blue. United had no second thoughts about re-signing him.
It is now reported that the club are likely to prioritise a defensive midfielder next summer. Rice is regarded as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred target.
However, the club’s hierarchy have different opinions on the Hammers ace and don’t believe he is quick enough on or off the ball to suit the style of play under Solskjaer.
The Red Devils board want a new midfielder to complement Scott McTominay and have doubts over Rice’s ability to significantly improve the team next season.
With the Hammers likely to value him between £80-90m, United are searching for alternative targets outside of the Premier League, who would be equally or more effective without inflationary prices.
Rice has been a consistent performer for the Hammers over the past few years, and he has developed into one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League.
The 22-year-old is not the fastest when running with the ball, but he is far from the worst. He recently scored a stunning solo goal against Dinamo Zagreb.
United have tended to haggle over transfer valuations in recent years, as highlighted by delaying the pursuit of Harry Maguire and Sancho by a couple of transfer windows.
A similar situation could arise with Rice. The Hammers are in a strong position to negotiate as the midfielder will effectively have three years left on his contract next summer.
Manchester City have also been strongly linked with the midfielder’s services, and it won’t be a surprise if United look elsewhere to avoid a potential bidding battle.
United don’t have any clear-cut targets at the moment. The club’s scouting team have the best part of nine months to recommend suitable foreign talents with reasonable price tags.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
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