Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson says Manchester United “have to break the bank” to go and sign England midfielder Declan Rice this summer.
Rice, 23, has been steadily improving at West Ham and he starred for England at the Euros last summer. United and Chelsea have been heavily linked with the player over the last 18 months and Merson thinks he will move on at the end of the season.
Manchester City are also interested in the dynamic midfielder, who is a boyhood Chelsea fan.
United’s need though looks greater, with the Old Trafford recruitment department working hard to whittle down a list of Rice, Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips and RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara, according to ESPN.
Rice, who is under contract until 2024, also has a clause in his deal which allows West Ham to extend his contract by an additional 12 months.
It may well come down to a shoot out between United and Chelsea in the summer. But while Rice recently told Gary Neville’s Overlap Podcast he wants to “stay close” to his south-west London roots, he also lifted United fans with his comments last month.
After the stoppage-time defeat at Old Trafford, Rice said: “I was loving it. Every time I come to Old Trafford, I’ve always said it’s one of my favourite places to play.
“It’s an amazing stadium.”
Rice has been ‘absolutely phenomenal’
Merson is confident Rice will be transferred this summer and says United must go all in for the former Republic of Ireland U21 star.
“I think Declan Rice will be gone this summer,” Merson told Sky Sports. “I think it will be Man Utd, if you’re Man Utd you’ve got to break the bank.
“If you look at their midfield it is not strong enough. They don’t dominate football matches and for me, they have to go and get him.
“I think he is the best in the business. He has improved immensely, he has taken his game up not one or two. I think he has taken it up ten-fold.
“From a holding midfield player, he is bombing forward, scoring goals, getting chances, and making goals. I can’t talk highly enough of the lad, I think he’s been absolutely phenomenal.
“Chelsea could go and get him but they could do without him. They’ve still got Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante – three unbelievable midfield players and they dominate football matches.
“But you look at Man Utd and the midfield isn’t strong enough to win anything really.”