Declan Rice: Manchester United and Chelsea target profiled
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Heading into the summer transfer window, many Manchester United fans will have thought that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have prioritised signing a central midfielder. Although they won’t have been disappointed with signing Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, they will feel that they are a midfielder away from being competitive this season.
One player who was frequently linked with a move to Old Trafford is West Ham’s Declan Rice, who was exceptional when representing England against Poland on Wednesday evening.
The Three Lions drew 1-1 with their Group I rivals 1-0 in a tough, heated contest.
It was the ever-reliable Harry Kane who opened the scoring in the 72nd-minute goal, rifling home a 25-yard strike into the bottom right corner past the helpless Wojiech Szczesny in the Polish goal.
Damian Szymanski then levelled in the 92nd minute heading home from close range after good work by Jakub Moder and Robert Lewandowski on the left.
Aided by the intensity of the Warsaw crowd, the home side were fierce to the tackle and fearless in going toe to toe with the Euro 2020 runners up.
Before Euro 2020, there was scepticism about the partnership of Rice and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips, but they have since proven that Gareth Southgate was right to put trust in the pair.
They are able to dictate the tempo of games, sniff out attacks and allow the more creative players that England are blessed with to play with freedom without fearing they need to track back.
Rice was superb against the Polish side, he kept tabs on star striker Lewandowski, broke down counter-attacks and was able to slot in beside Harry Maguire and John Stones to form a five-man defence when his country were under the cosh.
If Solskjaer was watching, he will have been questioning why Rice wasn’t his priority this summer.
According to SunSport, West Ham are eager to have Rice sign a contract extension at the London Stadium, but there is uncertainty as to whether he actually will, with the prospect of consistent Champions League football elsewhere being very appetising to the midfielder.
As it stands, the 22-year-old is contracted to the Hammers until 2024, though it is believed that if they were to receive a £100million offer for their captain then they would be willing to let him go.
Chelsea and Manchester City are two other clubs linked with Rice, though United prioritising him could put them in pole position to secure his signature.
With Marcus Rashford expected to displace Paul Pogba on the left wing when he has recovered from his shoulder injury, the French midfielder will drop deeper and replace Scott McTominay or Fred when the time comes.
Pogba often thrives on the international stage when alongside N’Golo Kante, like Rice, a defensive-minded midfielder.
Therefore, the prospect of playing alongside one of the best holding midfielders in the league could tempt Pogba into signing a contract extension at his boyhood club due to how the said partnership would bring out the best in him.
If United are willing to match West Ham’s asking price for Rice then he will become the joint-most expensive Englishman in the league with Jack Grealish.
Rice would be able to act as a safety net for the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Ronaldo, Sancho, etc, whilst also enabling Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw to bomb forward with the assurance that he will be there to cover.
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