Man Utd backed to sign primary Chelsea target with Ten Hag making £100m-plus deal likelier than ever

Germany midfielder Jamal Musiala battling England and West Ham star Declan Rice

Man Utd have been backed to sign a ‘perfect’ alternative to Frenkie de Jong amid claims Erik ten Hag has already made them a more attractive destination.

The Red Devils pushed hard to sign De Jong last summer. They did agree a deal around the £72m mark with Barcelona, but convincing the Dutchman to join proved a bridge too far.

Once the De Jong deal died, Manchester United moved quickly to sign Casemiro from Real Madrid.

The Brazilian has been made to be patient thus far with fellow summer recruit, Christian Eriksen, forming a fine partnership with Scott McTominay in the double pivot.

United were torn apart in the Manchester derby on Sunday. However, very few teams can contain Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland at present.

The underlying feeling at Old Trafford is Erik ten Hag has United moving in the right direction. What’s more, he’s not afraid to assert his influence, according to the Telegraph.

They reported he’s instructed the club to adopt a more ruthless approach to player contracts. Ten Hag doesn’t want his players falling into comfort zones and believes contracts should be harder to earn.

The early signs for Ten Hag are positive and United are likely to continue backing him in the market. They spent over £200m in the summer, but per Fabrizio Romano, still retain an interest in De Jong.

If the Barcelona star still cannot be signed next summer, former United right-back, Paul Parker, reckons Ten Hag should go for Declan Rice. The Manchester Evening News term him the ‘perfect’ alternative.

Man Utd more attractive than Chelsea?

The West Ham and England ace, 23, is one of the Premier League’s finest midfielders.

According to 90min, he’s ‘expecting to leave’ the Hammers next summer as he goes in search of a greater challenge.

Chelsea continue to draw strong links with Rice and the connection is obvious. He was on the Blues’ books between 2006-14 and is best friends with Mason Mount.

Furthermore, Chelsea have uncertainty over two of their most effective midfielders at present. Both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are out of contract at season’s end.

Chelsea are also in the mix to sign Jude Bellingham. However, Liverpool and Real Madrid are believed to be the frontrunners at present having put in the most work behind the scenes.

When would Rice deal happen?

That may push Rice to the top of Chelsea’s list, but according to Parker, Man Utd are an increasingly attractive proposition given Ten Hag is now steering the ship.

The former defender also outlined why Man City won’t be in the running, and predicted when a move might happen.

“I would say now for Declan Rice that Manchester United could be an even better move for him with the way [Erik] ten Hag and his side are doing at the moment,” said Parker (via the Manchester Evening News)

“I think we have to rule out Manchester City because they’ve got Kalvin Phillips now. Liverpool could be interested in him because they keep talking about midfield.”

Parker added: “That is an end-of-the-season deal. That is not going to happen mid-season and not in a million years.

“It isn’t going to work but, if you look next summer, I think that is when that one could happen.”

West Ham will demand nine-figure sum for Declan Rice

West Ham and David Moyes have gone on record to state Rice is valued well into nine figures. Moyes has even cited a £150m figure in the past.

Whether the Hammers will hold out for such a lofty fee, only time will tell. However, the player’s contract situation could force a price drop.

Rice’s current deal expires in 2024, though the club do hold an option for a further 12 months.

In theory, West Ham have a maximum of two years breathing room come next summer. The two-year mark is generally the point when clubs seriously begin to consider a player’s future if it becomes apparent they won’t pen fresh terms.

Rice rejected a whopping eight-year extension earlier in 2022. The deal would’ve netted him £200,000-w-eeek – an incredible show of faith by West Ham.

However, Rice snubbed the offer and may well find himself the subject of mass transfer speculation in 2023.

READ MORE: Man Utd plotting the ultimate transfer hijack for spectacular striker who may never play for his new club