Manchester United are likely to have a clear run to sign West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice this summer, ESPN reports.
The Red Devils have been fancied to sign a defensive midfielder and they have already been linked with several names including Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse.
Rice has also been on United’s radar for a while, and ESPN claims that the Red Devils have the best opportunity to sign him during the upcoming transfer window.
Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have also been linked with Rice in the past, but it is reported that the trio may not be in the running to sign the England star.
City are prioritising a new striker this summer with Erling Haaland being the prime target while Liverpool have postponed their plans to pursue a defensive midfielder.
They have their sights on landing Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham in 2023. Meanwhile, Chelsea are still going through a takeover and may prioritise their defence.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are braced for the departures of two key central defenders in Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. Both are set to leave on free transfers.
Hence, United are deemed favourites in Rice’s pursuit. He is set to cost over £100 million, but it is unclear whether they can lure him amid their decline in recent years.
Rice has developed into one of the Premier League’s leading midfielders. Over the past year, he has also improved his creativity, linking up with his teammates in the final third.
The England star has averaged an impressive 2.1 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per league game this term, but has also been involved offensively with nine goal contributions in all competitions.
At 23, he is just entering the prime of his career. Rice could be a perfect fit at the heart of the midfield for United, but the main question remains whether he would be tempted to join them.
United have had the pulling power over the years, and last summer was another prime example with Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo all making the switch to Old Trafford.
Despite the high-profile signings, United looks set to miss out on Champions League football next term and Rice has a big decision to make over his future during the summer transfer window.
A return to former club Chelsea would be an enticing prospect, but the Blues may not make a huge outlay on him this year, particularly with multiple centre-backs heading for the exit door.
Meanwhile, West Ham’s own position in Europe could also influence Rice’s decision. He could decide to stay if the Hammers qualify for the Champions League by virtue of winning the Europa League.
This will be known in the near future, but United will be hoping that things fall in their favour to land Rice. They were priced out of a move for him last summer, having spent big on Varane and Sancho.