Manchester United will look to the summer transfer window to upgrade their options in midfield despite questions over price and availability of their preferred targets. The club have been brainstorming over a list containing the likes of Declan Rice, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Amadou Haidara, Kalvin Phillips, and John McGinn.
Recently, uncertainties in addressing multiple areas have come into the limelight with Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, and Edinson Cavani looking set to leave United by the next transfer window, unless things change with regards to a new contract offer. As it stands, the club will decide on contracts once the new permanent manager is appointed.
🚨 West Ham United face a battle to hang on to Declan Rice after the club's inactivity in the January transfer window encouraged his suitors that the midfielder could be prized away this summer. #mufc, City and Chelsea are targeting him #mujournal
— United Journal (@theutdjournal) February 1, 2022
There is no room for error in United’s case when moving for their next big purchase in the summer. Declan Rice, the highly-rated English midfielder is attracting interest from Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City. All interested parties will face various obstacles in the pathway of securing the 24-year old’s signature.
His future at West Ham shares similar shades with the Harry Kane saga from last summer where smart operators at Manchester City expected their pursuit for the England captain to resolve while going down to the wire. Instead, Kane stayed at Spurs despite late bids from the Cityzens and intense negotiations between Ferran Soriano and Daniel Levy.
🗣️ — @Matt_Law_DT:
"Declan Rice has rejected two contract offers both of which would've made him one of West Ham's highest wage earner. They may well offer him another one but I'm told that at this stage, he would reject this as well." #mufc #mujournal
— United Journal (@theutdjournal) July 21, 2021
Declan Rice will have 2 years remaining on his contract by the start of next summer transfer window while West Ham holds an option of extending his stay at the London Stadium for an extra year. He rejected fresh contract proposals multiple times last summer and wanted to be informed of bids/proposals placed by Champions League competing clubs. His hunger to play in European competitions forced West Ham to actively look for valuable deals in the market such as Kurt Zouma and Jesse Lingard and strengthen their personnel through investments.
📝 — West Ham have put a £100million price tag on Rice. Chelsea would need to sell N’Golo Kante to free up space in Rice’s position but that is a possibility with Frenchman in his thirties #mufc #mujournal
— United Journal (@theutdjournal) February 6, 2022
As reported by Joe Bernstein, Rice wants to know the level of interest from his boyhood club Chelsea before deciding to make moves in the coming months. MEN did a story last year on how Tuchel’s key target asked Luke Shaw, Dean Henderson, and Harry Maguire about their experiences of being a United player with great interest but it’s also well known about his close-knit friendship with Mason Mount playing a major role in choosing Declan’s next club.
📝 — Manchester United are expected to move for Declan Rice next summer. Chelsea and Man City are also monitoring the situation and it feels unlikely that West Ham will be able to refuse a massive offer for the player. #mufc #mujournal
— United Journal (@theutdjournal) September 18, 2021
Manchester City is not far away from the race. In fact, Rice is seen as the No.1 target to replace Fernandinho whose contract expires in the summer. Pep Guardiola’s influence will play a vital role and City have the budget to meet West Ham’s asking price.
Rice’s representatives should start laying the groundwork before the transfer window starts, to engineer his move to a Champions League qualifying club. Dealing with West Ham is going to be laborious, especially with the East London side planning ahead for next season with the club captain in their minds.
In 2020, Rice cut ties with his former agency Wasserman MG and gave his representative powers to FA registered intermediary Sean Rice, his father. The biggest drawback behind family representation in football was clearly visible from the Harry Kane saga. His father might not have the experience of contriving a transfer involving big money. Whereas in last summer, Jack Grealish moved to rivals City after signing up with ICM Stellar’s Jonathan Barnett to force a transfer away from Aston Villa as Barnett had vast amounts of experiences in the past of being the architect behind mouthwatering transfers such as Gareth Bale’s record move to Real Madrid.
It seems highly unlikely if Rice will force a move out of West Ham this summer. The defensive midfielder was taken up into the Hammers’ academy setup after being released by Chelsea at the age of 16. Either he runs down his contract respectfully by coming to a mutual understanding with the club or he should sign a new contract with West Ham by convincing them to add a release clause of￡100m, which could help the Hammers in retrieving the amount that the Englishman is worth in the current scenario.
Rice’s involvement with Kalvin Phillips in England’s squad during the Qatar World Cup in the winter will be crucial for West Ham to achieve short-term gains from the market as international tournaments attract interest from clubs outside the UK, which in return could inflate his value for the summer of 2023 despite his dying contract situation with the East London based club.
Manchester United should carefully weigh their midfield options while working with a fixed budget this summer. United haven’t invested heavily in a young defensive midfielder since Michael Carrick, who was bought from Tottenham Hotspur for￡18.6m at the age of 24. The sad reality is that Carrick retired in 2018 and as of now, United haven’t put in the effort to replace him.
Backlogs will keep adding up if the club keeps acting stubbornly in the upcoming market. The team’s form will constantly stagnate and the ownership will face serious repercussions when the club stops qualifying for European places. In the coming weeks, we’ll get a clear picture of the club’s plan in the summer window.