It would not be cost-effective for Manchester United to sign a player like Declan Rice, according to their former striker Andrew Cole.
Instead, Cole wants to see them ditch their pursuit of West Ham midfielder Rice in favour of Borussia Dortmund counterpart Jude Bellingham. Either way, it seems the club will be signing a midfielder during their summer revolution.
Reports have suggested it may be a smaller-spending summer at Old Trafford. That said, with the arrival of a new manager to succeed Ralf Rangnick, several transfer links will follow.
With Champions League football looking at risk, the squad needs reinforcing. One of the main areas in need is midfield, where there is perhaps a lack of balance.
Manchester United have many attack-minded midfield players. However, they lack a genuine holding option, other than back-up Nemanja Matic.
The likes of Scott McTominay and Fred have often played in a double pivot, but could be freed up with the arrival of a defensive-minded partner.
With that in mind, Man Utd have been mentioned as one of the suitors for West Ham star Rice. The England international is growing in pedigree with every passing week.
Although West Ham are now establishing themselves as a contender for the European berths, they risk losing their prize asset, who is out of contract in 2024. (The club do have the option to prolong that deal by a further year).
But they are driving a hard bargain, with manager David Moyes suggesting his vice-captain could be worth as much as £150m.
Bellingham worth £150m as Liverpool interested
Jude Bellingham is a Liverpool target with £150m price tag from Borussia Dortmund next summer
Such a figure would be enough to make any suitor think twice about bidding for Rice. Any such doubts are shared by Cole, who thinks United would be better off spending on someone who can contribute better numbers.
He said on Sky Sports: “£150m for a holding midfield player? That’s a lot of money.
“Not sure how many goals he’s going to get you from that position.
“We were just talking, if the opportunity comes about when Rice is available in the summer and you had Bellingham come available, who would you spend your £150m on?
Man Utd told to pick Jude Bellingham
“Personally, I would go with Bellingham. He’s 18 years of age and he goes that way, that way [points up and down], he creates chances, he scores goals.
“For such a young man, his ability is absolutely frightening. Bellingham has something extra, just energy.”
Jude Bellingham was of interest to Man Utd when he was coming through at Birmingham City. Instead, though, he opted to take the pathway abroad with Borussia Dortmund.
His decision to move to the Bundesliga has been vindicated. Now a full international colleague of Rice, Bellingham has been building experience at Champions League level.
Like current Man Utd winger Jadon Sancho, it is expected Bellingham will leave Dortmund to return to his country of birth at some point. When that time comes, there will be many interested parties.
Liverpool are a potential suitor, for example. But rivals Man Utd could always revive their interest.
That said, it would not necessarily alleviate their need for a natural holding midfielder either. Still, there may be a more shrewd way for them to address that than a nine-figure bid for Rice.